Roque muddling the issue on ICC OTP request to move to investigation

Philippine Coalition for the International Criminal Court
Media Quotes
16 June 2021

PCICC Co-Chairperson Aurora Parong on Spokesperson Roque’s statements that request for full investigation by ICC violates the principle of complementarity since the country’s domestic system is functioning and willing to investigate, citing investigations by DOJ:

“Spokesperson Harry Roque is muddling the issues regarding the ICC Prosecutor’s decision. Where is the basis of a functional justice system? It has been 5 years since the war on drugs and there is only one successful prosecution, that of Kian delos Santos. There is not much to show that the justice system is functioning because investigators are not doing their jobs or not filing charges towards prosecution. The DOJ is at standby, just reviewing. We need more than that. We need actions towards prosecution of perpetrators. Rhetoric cannot suffice.

“The Duterte administration can counter the OTP report by presenting a progress report on investigations and criminal prosecution of perpetrators of the thousands of killings in the war on drugs. They must do their work quick because time is running out. They need to show that there is genuine willingness and ability to investigate towards criminal prosecution and accountability of those most responsible for the widespread killings.

“According to the Rome Statute, the State may present claims that they are investigating cases within one month of the notification for opening of investigation. But they need to remember that challenging admissibility can only be done once by the State or individuals prior to or at the commencement of the trial unless the Court decides to defer or give another chance to challenge admissibility.

“As of now, the DOJ’s review has not resulted to concrete steps towards criminal prosecution. Secretary Guevarra was informed about cases for criminal action last February but is waiting for the PNP to files charges. PNP Chief Eleazar also says that he has to ask permission from the DILG.

“In the review of cases by the DOJ, it found violations of protocols including neglect of examination of weapons and verification of ownership; paraffin tests were not conducted. Until now, there is no information about the steps taken against negligent police as well as instructions to do better and follow the protocols. We lament the absence of transparency where families of victims, lawyers and the public are kept in the dark on the DOJ report. There is no national security issue here that the report cannot be made public. “

On Roque’s statement “We are confident it will not prosper beyond this stage because in the first place, you need cooperation of the state if you are going to resort to a case build up, for case build up, all they have right now is hearsay information… she came out with a fantastic conclusion””

“There were more than 50 communications received by the ICC, so the spokesperson should not just throw them away as rubbish. Some of the evidences have already been secured by the OTP during its preliminary examination. Human rights organizations and civil society groups have submitted reports and recommendations based on independent research about cases of EJKs in the country showing the failure of the Duterte administration to address the situation caused by its bloody drug war. Cases have been documented by the CHR, the government’s own human rights arm. The CHR welcomed OTP’s move to request the opening of an investigation and issued again their recommendation for President Duterte to take part in the process and to cooperate with openness and transparency.

“We also trust that there are persons willing to testify at the ICC, be they civilian witnesses or police witnesses, when there is a safe space to speak about what they witnessed personally. There are people in government who respect the right to life, believe in exacting accountability and want the truth to come out about the bloody war on drugs.”

“In the interest of justice, we are appealing to those who have not decided to speak about the truth but have personal knowledge about the cases of killings to please talk to the ICC personnel when the Pre-Trial Chamber authorizes the investigation.”