MANILA, Philippines – Not applicable.
This is what Malacañang said of plans to file a crimes against humanity case against President Rodrigo Duterte before the International Criminal Court (ICC) this March.
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in an interview Saturday, March 11, with state-run dzRB that the case being contemplated by the camp of a self-confessed former Davao Death Squad (DDS) member Edgar Matobato does not fall into any of the types of cases that can be heard by the ICC.
Matobato’s lawyer Jude Sabio announced on Thursday he would file a case against Duterte before the ICC for “crimes against humanity over extrajudicial killings” attributed to the President. Matobato had previously linked Duterte to the DDS.
The ICC, however, lists the elements of a “crime against humanity of murder” as the following:
1. The perpetrator killed one or more persons
2. The conduct was committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against a civilian population
3. The perpetrator knew that the conduct was part of or intended the conduct to be part of a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population
The Rome Statute, which the Philippines signed and ratified in 2011, lists 15 forms of crimes against humanity, including murder. (READ: HRW: Duterte could be held liable for crimes against humanity)
Abella maintained, however, that genocide was not applicable. “Like genocide, causing serious bodily and mental harm… kumbaga medyo malayo ‘yung kanilang kinakaso (it appears the case they will file is far from that),” Abella said in a mix of English and Filipino. “And we’re not suppressing any ethnic, racial or religious group.”
Abella added that extrajudicial killings – stated as the basis for the case against Duterte – is “not applicable” to the Philippines. He also reiterated these are not state-sanctioned. (READ: Palace to ICC: Duterte admin not behind extrajudicial killings)
“What we’re dealing with here are crimes against drugs and dealers and drug addiction and drug-dealing,” he said in Filipino. “These are just police operations.”
Abella also pointed out that Duterte sought help anew due to the “worsening problem” of illegal drugs in the country.
Presidential chief legal counsel Salvador Panelo had earlier dismissed the case to be filed at the ICC, telling reporters on Friday, March 10, that it “has no basis.” He dismissed it as “mere propaganda.”
On the other hand, a human rights lawyer writing for Rappler argued that while police and military officials may be liable for deaths in the “war on drugs”, Duterte may also be prosecuted by the ICC by virtue of command responsibility. – Rappler.com