Kabayan Party-list Rep. Harry Roque on Wednesday warned President Rodrigo Duterte that the International Criminal Court (ICC) may indict him for the continuing spate of extrajudicial killings (EJKs) related to the government's campaign against illegal drugs.
In a privilege speech delivered to commemorate International Humanitarian Law (IHL) Day on August 12, Roque said that so long as the ICC believes the war on drugs is "widespread" and "systematic", it is likely to investigate the killings.
Citing jurisprudence decided by other international tribunals, Roque said that "while it would be imprudent for [him] to say with certainty that President Duterte has already committed a crime against humanity, it would be a disservice to this entire nation if [he] did not warn [the president] to be careful."
"Neither the Rome Statute nor general international law prescribes a minimum number of victims for an indictment. So long as the ICC believes the war on drugs is 'widespread' and 'systematic', they are likely to investigate," he said.
"From what we can see today, it is clear that the civilian population is being attacked - news reports all around us overwhelmingly establish that hundreds of Filipinos have been killed either directly by governmental forces or with their support or tolerance. It is also clear that the President is aware that these acts are ongoing. Even without proof of a directive on his part, he has, in many instances, spoken about the use of violence against drug syndicates."
Roque said that according to Article 7, Section 1 of the Rome Statute - the treaty that established the ICC of which the Philippines is party to - a "crime against humanity" is a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population with knowledge of such attack.
"By definition, crimes against humanity may be committed even in times of peace, without the existence of an armed conflict," he said.
Moreover, Roque warned that the principle of state immunity granted to a sitting president "is not an effective shield against the ICC."
"The ICC has indicted leaders even during their term of power. It has done so in Kenya, Sudan, and others. Even without actual or direct participation, the President can be indicted for crimes under the principle of Command Responsibility so long as he knew that such crime was being committed, and he failed to take all necessary and reasonable measures within his power to stop such acts. The ICC does not need to wait for news about the massacre of an entire town or barangay before it investigates. If the administration does not temper the methods it has been using over the past few weeks, then it is only a matter of time before the international community turns its focus on the Philippines for justice," he said.
"It is true that the ICC operates under the principle of complementarity - meaning, the primary jurisdiction to prosecute international crimes belongs to the state; however, the international tribunal may step in when it is clear that the state is unwilling and unable to do so, under the aut dedere aut judicare principle.
"In other words, half-hearted investigation efforts or the refusal to investigate and prosecute widespread and systematic EJKs (extrajudicial killings) constituting crimes against humanity just cannot be an effective shield against the ICC's jurisdiction," he added.
Roque to file bill
Roque also said he will be filing two bills for the Philippines to better able discharge its obligations under international law.
"The first is an "IHL Amendatory Act". It is meant to address infirmities in RA 9851. It revises the definitions of the (i) crime of genocide, (ii) crimes against humanity and (iii) war crimes to follow strictly their definitions in the Rome Statute of the ICC. It also deletes some acts not found within the Rome Statute. It also integrates the Elements of Crimes (as approved by members of the Assembly of States Parties of the ICC) to assist in the interpretation and application of the crimes," he said.
"The second is a bill entitled the "Philippine-ICC Cooperation Act" with the principal objective of facilitating compliance with the Philippines' obligations under the Rome Statute. The bill recognizes that the ICC is not a supranational court; its jurisdiction is complementary to that of the States that have ratified its Statute. When the Court does act, it will rely at every step of its investigation and prosecution upon cooperation with national law enforcement authorities to help gather evidence and testimony, to investigate and document crime scenes, to arrest suspects, and to imprison those individuals who are convicted by the Court," he added.
"Honorable members of the House of Representatives, let us do our part in the fight against impunity of heinous crimes and ensure sanctions against the most horrendous violations that can be committed both in times of armed conflict and in the absence of one. It is in our power to help uphold the rule of law in our country and the system of international justice," Roque concluded.
Source: Daily Tribune