News Release

Palace remains ‘confident’ amid ICC’s prelim exam into drug campaign

Sagñay, Camarines Sur – Malacañang on Friday, February 9, said President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is confident that the International Criminal Court (ICC) would not go beyond its preliminary examination into the allegations involving his administration’s anti-drug campaign.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Jr. stressed this during a press briefing held here where he said that he had discussed the ICC preliminary examination with the President.

Secretary Roque said President Duterte was positive he would be cleared from accusations that he was behind the alleged extrajudicial killings in the country, the same way he was cleared from accusations linking him to the workings of the alleged Davao Death Squad (DDS) when he was mayor of Davao city.

Roque cited that even former United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions Philip Alston cleared the President from criminal liability when he investigated the suspected vigilante group in Davao.

“The most that Special Rapporteur Philip Alston recommended then was criminal charge for simple negligence against the police,” he stressed.

Hence, the Spokesperson said President Duterte was confident that the conclusion of the ICC would be similar to the findings of the UN Special Rapporteur in relation to the government’s policy against illegal drugs.

“[T]he President said that if the conclusion of the Special Rapporteur was that the police was only liable for simple negligence, he is very confident that… at most, what could be the finding [of the ICC] would be similar to the finding of Philip Alston; that sometimes – not all the time – police appear to be negligent in conducting the war against drugs,” he said.

Furthermore, Roque insisted that the basis of the country’s consent to become a member of the ICC was the principle of complementarity, which means that the court can only claim jurisdiction over cases of crimes against humanity if the State fails to investigate them.

“Our domestic courts are able and willing to prosecute these crimes. The ICC is not a court of first instance; the ICC is only a court of last resort,” Roque said.

The President’s Spokesperson also reiterated that the alleged deaths attributed to the administration’s campaign against illegal drugs were because of lawful police operations and therefore could not be regarded as attacks against civilians.

Roque clarified that no formal charges were filed against any official in government, since the preliminary examination only aims to determine if there is a reasonable basis to conduct a formal investigation.

“Lilinawin ko po, preliminary examination pa lang po ito. So wala po talagang nasasakdal dito. Pag-aaralan lang ng [ICC] Prosecutor ‘yung sitwasyon at titingnan kung mayroong reasonable basis to begin a preliminary investigation,” he said.

Palace hails passage of Free Irrigation Act

During the same press briefing, Malacañang announced that the President has signed into law Republic Act No. 10969, also known as the Free Irrigation Service Act.

Roque said President Duterte signed the law last Friday, February 2, “to ensure that irrigation service is made available through the continued construction, repair, and maintenance of necessary irrigation facilities.”

The Spokesperson said the new law would further relieve Filipino farmers and their irrigation associations from the burden and consequence of unpaid irrigation service fees.

Secretary Roque was one of the principal authors of House Bill No. 5670, which was the House version of the Free Irrigation Service Act.

Roque, the former representative of the Kabayan Party-list, was one of the principal authors of House Bill No. 5670, also known as the “Free Irrigation Service Act.”

“Dito po napupunta ang buwis ng taumbayan, libreng patubig po para sa ating mga magsasaka,” Roque said. ### PCO-Content