MANILA President Rodrigo Duterte's statement on the extra judicial killings (EJK) could not be considered as ground for impeachment, MalacaAang said Monday.
He is simply wrong. He is not specialist in the field, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a regular Palace press briefing, referring to former Ateneo School of Government Dean Tony La ViAa.
La ViAa reportedly described Duterte's 'my only sin is the extrajudicial killings' remark as admission that EJKs exist because of him and therefore, the President could allegedly be held liable for culpable violation of the Constitution, which is an impeachable offense.
He (La ViAa) is wrong. It presupposes that our judicial system is not working in the first place. Number two, it presupposes that our President admitted to murder. Did he? Not by virtue of the context of what he said, Roque replied.
Roque, a former law professor at the University of the Philippines, explained that Duterte has just underscored the point that he has not been accused of corruption nor has he engaged in political vendetta.
I would like to reiterate that the context of what the President said EJK is the only criticism labeled against him and no one has even accused him of corruption, he said.
Roque said, actually there is no crime under domestic law or international law as EJK.
In fact, this is misleading term because killing in our constitution and our laws is never legal. So there is no such thing as extra judicial killing. So it is either lawful killing or an unlawful killing, Roque said.
As I said, there's even no crime as EJK, it's a misnomer because, you know, there can never be judicial killings in this country because we have done away with the death penalty, he added.
Roque also downplayed critics and detractors' claim that Duterte's EJK remark will bolster their complaint in the International Criminal Court (ICC).
I am at the very least amused at statements of some of the critics of the President saying that this declaration or so called admission will bolster their complaint in the ICC, he said.
He clarified there is no pending preliminary investigation as of yet in the ICC.
The prosecutors at this stage is only examining if it should in fact proceed to a preliminary investigation. This cannot be taken as admission, as I said, because the President was not admitting the murder, Roque said.
Roque reiterated that the ICC has no jurisdiction to investigate the alleged extrajudicial killings, saying ICC serves only as a court of last resort.
I reiterate because of the principle of complementarity, the ICC can only have jurisdiction if our courts, our prosecutors are unable or unwilling to exercise jurisdiction, Roque said.
He said the local courts may not be perfect but these are working.
Roque said the Philippines' situation is different from countries under ICC's investigation such as Congo, Uganda, Central African Republic, Mali and CAte d'Ivoire where investigations were referred to by their respective state parties themselves.
So to those who will say this will booster any case in the ICC: One, there is no pending case in the ICC. Two, there can be no admission if there was no admission made to any criminal act and three, it presupposes that our domestic courts, our judicial system is simply not working, he added.
Roque said every lawyer, like him, and every judge, should be insulted by the statements by individuals that the ICC should exercise jurisdiction in the country's domestic laws.
I refuse to concede and admit as a Filipino lawyer, as an officer of the court that are Courts are unable and unwilling to exercise jurisdiction. We have a working criminal justice in the Philippines, he said.
He challenged Duterte's critics and detractors to file their complaints in the Philippines' courts.
I will not concede that we have a judicial system similar to that Congo, Uganda, Sudan, Central African Republic, Libya CAte d'Ivoire, Roque said.
I'm sorry if they are in any way slighted by my statement but I stand by that: we have a working criminal justice system, he added.
Roque even challenged La ViAa to file an impeachment case against Duterte.
Let him start. He cannot vote because he is not a member of Congress and I'm sure it will also be dismissed by Congress, not because it is a political process, but because it's utterly bereft of merit, he said. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency