Former Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque (File photo)
MANILA – The decision of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to temporarily suspend its investigation into the Duterte administration’s drug war is a recognition that the Philippine’s judicial processes are working, a former Palace official said on Sunday.
Former presidential spokesperson Harry Roque attributed the decision of the ICC to defer its investigation to the principle of complementarity that states there should be no overlapping jurisdictions.
“The ICC prosecutors’ decision to defer the ongoing preliminary investigation on the Philippine drug war highlights the importance of the principle of complementarity,” Roque said in a press statement.
The principle of complementarity provides that a case is inadmissible before the ICC if it is currently under investigation by a state with jurisdiction over it.
“Under this principle, the ICC will only exercise jurisdiction if local justice institutions, such as the prosecutors and the Courts, are unable and unwilling to exercise its jurisdiction,” he added.
Roque said the ICC “was never intended to be a court of first instance, but only as a court of last resort.”
“This order is a recognition that the Philippine institutions are working and that the ICC will not exercise original jurisdiction precisely because sovereignty and jurisdiction provides that it is Philippine authorities that must investigate, punish, and prosecute these alleged instances of illegal killings in connection with the drug war,” he said.
He also reiterated that the Philippine response to the ICC prosecutors’ request for information on investigation and prosecution does not deviate from the position of President Rodrigo Duterte that the ICC has no jurisdiction.
“This was in fact also alleged by Philippine authorities. This is because President Duterte is not a respondent in any preliminary investigation as the on-going ICC investigation is focused on the drug war,” he added.
Malacañang earlier welcomed the ICC move, insisting that the international court has no jurisdiction over the Philippine government.
“We welcome the judiciousness of the new ICC prosecutor who has deemed it fit to give the matter a fresh look, and we trust that the matter will be resolved in favor of the exoneration of our government and the recognition of the vibrancy of our justice system,” acting presidential spokesperson Karlo Nograles said in a statement on Saturday.
Based on documents released on Friday, ICC chief prosecutor Karim Khan said they will temporarily suspend the investigation to assess the Philippines’ request to defer to the Philippine government in conducting the probe.
“The Prosecution has temporarily suspended its investigative activities while it assesses the scope and effect of the deferral request,” a report of the ICC chief prosecutor read.
He, however, said his office will continue its analysis of information already in its possession, and any new information it may receive from third parties.
Earlier, the Philippine government requested that the Prosecutor defer to the Philippine government’s investigations and proceedings in a Nov. 10 letter signed by Ambassador to The Netherlands Eduardo Malaya.
Duterte formally withdrew the Philippines’ membership from the ICC on March 17, 2019, or exactly a year after it revoked the Rome Statute that created the international tribunal, noting that the Hague-based court has no jurisdiction to indict him. (PNA)