By Genalyn Kabiling
President Duterte believes the International Criminal Court (ICC) could no longer resume its inquiry into his war on drugs, and he is even prepared to debate with lawyers to defend his argument.
The President, a former prosecutor, argued that the tribunal neither has basis nor power to proceed with the preliminary examination since its founding treaty is not even considered a law in the country.
“Sabihin nitong mga abogado [The lawyers said], I’d like to debate with you really. Paunahin ko pa kayo ng isang oras. Sige daw. Sabihin mo ([I’ll let you go ahead by an hour. Go ahead. You’ll say] ‘We can continue with the investigation.’ Based on what?” Duterte said before the assembly of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines at the Manila Hotel last Tuesday night.
“Why are you here? Why are you f*cking in my country? What’s your power? What vests you? The treaty? The treaty was not published. When it is not published, it is as if there is no law at all,” he added.
President Duterte earlier decided to pull out the country’s membership from the international court in protest of the “baseless” attacks against him and violations of due process. Duterte made the decision weeks after the ICC opened a preliminary examination into the alleged crimes against humanity committed in his brutal drug war.
The ICC reportedly claimed that the inquiry would not be affected by the Philippines’ pull-out from the body, which would supposedly still take a year before it comes into effect.
Duterte, however, argued that the Rome Statute, which created the ICC, is considered “criminal law” that must be published before it could be effective and enforced in the country.
Under the treaty signed by over 100 state parties, the Hague-based tribunal is regarded as the court of last resort to prosecute persons for crimes against humanity and war crimes, among others.
“If it is a criminal nature which has penal sanctions, it should be published in the Official Gazette, that is the official publication. If you fail to do that, there is no law at all because then you cannot claim that ignorance of the law excuses no one,” Duterte said.
“So when are you excused because of your ignorance? It is when it is published in the Gazette, the Official Gazette, that you are now put on notice constructively. Kasi we cannot do it every person na assuming may batas ito. So by publishing it in the Official Gazette, it now becomes a law,” he said.
Duterte also questioned the qualification of ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda in initiating the preliminary examination on the drug war, saying she was considered an expert on maritime affairs.
“Sino namang gago ngayon na papayag na itong maritime law [What kind of fool would allow this maritime law (expert)]. You know you just to learn the definition of crime and the numerous… Kayong mga abogado tayo [That’s why we lawyers] it took us four years g******* to and the multiple application of the laws tapos bigyan mo akong maritime expert, ‘yung si Fat — Fatou? [And then you will give me a maritime expert. This Fatou?” he said.
Malacañang earlier acknowledged the international court could resume its probe on the drug war but it was “foolhardy” for it to expect the government’s cooperation. Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque instead said the court should drop the case rather than prove to the world that it was inutile.