MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Solicitor General Jose Calida wants lawyer Jude Sabio disbarred for filing “baseless suits” before the International Criminal Court (ICC) against President Rodrigo Duterte and other administration officials.
“Solicitor General Jose C. Calida, the government’s top lawyer, today said he will initiate the filing of a disbarment charge against Jude Jose Sabio, the lawyer for self-confessed hitman Edgar Matobato, for filing baseless suits,” the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) said in a statement issued on Wednesday, April 26.
Calida, who is among those named in the complaint, noted that Sabio was once sanctioned by the Supreme Court (SC) for filing a bribery complaint against a trial court judge which the SC found as baseless.
The High Court fined Sabio in 2008 and warned him that “a repetition of the same or similar questioned act will be dealt with more severely.”
For Calida, Sabio’s complaint is another baseless suit that violates the SC’s warning and therefore, a ground for disbarment.
“It appears that this lawyer is in the business of maliciously filing baseless suits based only on hearsays and unfounded suspicions,” Calida said.
Calida is one of the 11 individuals named by Sabio in his ICC complaint as liable for supposedly enabling Duterte’s “mass murders” in the government’s war on drugs.
Sabio is the lawyer of self-confessed hitman Edgar Matobato.
‘See you in court’
In his 78-page complaint submitted to ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, Sabio said Calida must also be held accountable for “promising to defend policemen accused of summary killings if the killings were committed as part of the war on drugs, knowing fully well that the duty of the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to defend public officials begins at the appellate level, and not at the local courts.”
Calida said that his statements were taken out of context and that he merely promised the Philippine National Police (PNP) that he will defend them before the Senate if the investigation in the upper chamber turns out to be “not in aid of legislation.”
Calida has always reiterated that as “tribune of the people,” he can “defend whoever I want to defend.”
He said his inclusion in the ICC complaint was malicious and gave a stern warning to Sabio: “We will see you in court.”
He described the lawyer as a “compliant stooge of the yellow cult” and linked the move to an alleged ouster plot against Duterte.
Calida said that following the principle of complementarity, the ICC does not have jurisdiction over the complaint because “there are adequate laws and remedies available in the Philippines to address the issue of alleged extrajudicial killings.” (READ: Things to know about Duterte’s pet peeve ICC)
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has the same assessment although she clarified that it will be the ICC that will decide whether Sabio’s complaint merits the attention of the international court.
For Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, the inclusion of personalities with “no executive function” in the case, such as Senators Richard Gordon and Alan Peter Cayetano, only “weakened” Sabio’s complaint.
“The complainant just showed how weak his complaint is and further weakened it by including people who have no executive function,” said Pimentel. (READ: 12 considerations on Duterte and ICC)
“When a legislator is not convinced that something happened or is happening, that doesn’t mean he is a party to that happening,” he added.
In his complaint, Sabio cited the report of the Senate committee on justice and human rights chaired by Gordon that the extrajudicial killings in the drug war are not sanctioned by the Duterte administration.
Cayetano is a staunch defender of Duterte and his war on drugs.
Pimentel added: “The ICC, being professionals, should immediately see the political purpose of this complaint. Nasa sa ICC na ‘yan kung magpapagamit sila sa domestic politics in the Philippines (It’s up to the ICC if it would allow itself to be used for domestic politics in the Philippines).” – With a report from Camille Elemia/Rappler.com