Nabua, Camarines Sur – Even without the Philippines calling on other countries to pull out membership from the International Criminal Court (ICC), State Parties may still consider doing so after witnessing the court’s prosecutor breach the principle of complementarity, Malacañang stressed on Monday, March 19.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. in a press briefing at the Camarines Sur Polytechnic Colleges said the ICC prosecutor should take the blame for the Philippines’ withdrawal from the Rome Statute.
He stressed that the move to conduct a preliminary examination on the Duterte administration’s war on drugs was “out of bounds,” as it violated the basis of the country’s consent to be part of the ICC.
“Once that [principle of complementarity] is violated, of course states will think twice about their continuing membership to the ICC,” Roque noted.
“States, when they became part of the ICC, did not surrender their sovereignty. They did not surrender the power of their local courts to exercise jurisdiction over crimes that happened [in their countries],” he added.
The Palace Spokesperson described the prosecutor’s move as an insult to officers of domestic courts in the country. He said Philippine courts should not be compared with those of other countries like Sudan, Burundi, and Somalia, since ours are able and willing to exercise jurisdiction over criminal cases.
“Sa akin po, huwag po nating ikumpara ang hukuman ng Pilipinas sa mga bansa gaya Burundi, Sudan, Somalia. Dahil ang ating mga hukuman po ay bukas, gumagana at wala pong hadlang para maparusahan maski po ang Presidente,” Roque said.
He then challenged the ICC to drop the charges filed against President Rodrigo Duterte, otherwise other State Parties may doubt their decision to continue being members of the international court.
“The ICC should’ve known that the Philippines was at the forefront of the campaign for universal ratification,” Roque stated.
Meanwhile, the Secretary also clarified Janet Lim-Napoles’ reported admission into the government’s Witness Protection Program (WPP).
He said at this point, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has not made a decision yet since prosecutors still have to study the matter.
“Nakasaad po sa batas na iyong desisyon kung sino ang papasukin sa WPP nakasalalay po iyan sa mga Prosecutors ng DOJ. Mayroon po tayong batas na sinusunod diyan. At sa ngayong punto pong ito, wala pa naman pong witness protection talaga si Janet Lim Napoles,” he said.
On the other hand, Roque clarified that even if Napoles gets admitted into the WPP, she would still not be granted immunity from suit unless the court decides to make her a state witness in the pork barrel scam case.
Gov’t to grant agri loans for Albay farmers
During the same press briefing, Malacañang announced that Albay farmers affected by Mayon volcano’s eruption can now avail of interest-free loans through the government’s Survival and Recovery Assistance (SURE) Program.
“Maaari na po kayong makakuha ng P25,000 interest-free loan mula sa Department of Agriculture sa kanilang Survival and Recovery Assistance (SURE) Program. Kasama ito sa financial assistance na ipinangako ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte sa kanyang pagbisita rito sa Albay noong Enero,” Secretary Roque said.
Under the SURE Program, each farmer will receive an initial P5,000 for their daily needs, whereas the remaining P20,000 will be given to them once they return to their homes.
The local government unit of Albay is tasked to submit to the DA the list of affected farmers in their areas, who can receive a maximum loanable amount of P25,000 regardless of the size of their farms, Roque cited. ### PCO-Content