Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque warned the International Criminal Court against being used to advance the agenda of political groups out to destabilize governments, and called on the body to respect the laws of member nations.
“We urge the court to resist attempts by some sectors to treat the court as a venue to pursue political agenda to destabilize governments and undermine legitimate national authorities,” he said before the ongoing Assembly of States Parties session in New York.
Roque said the Philippines acceded to the 1998 Rome Statute creating the ICC based on its adherence to the principle of complementarity which provides that the ICC will only prosecute an individual if states are unwilling or unable to prosecute.
“We trust that the court’s exercise of its mandate will respect national processes geared towards exacting criminal accountability for conduct committed within our territory,” he said.
“A violation of the very basis for our consent—which is complementarity—will constrain us to reassess our continuing commitment to the court and the Rome Statute,” Roque said.
The ICC must not intervene when there are ongoing national efforts to resolve crimes, such as terrorism and the illegal drug trafficking, he said.
“The recent siege in Marawi City in Southern Philippines serves as a crucial reminder for us and the rest of the world of the intimate and indisputable link between terrorism and the illegal drug trade,” he said.
“Ongoing national proceedings in relation to these crimes must therefore be respected, consistent not only with our sovereign right and responsibility to prosecute crimes committed in our territory, but also with the principle of complementarity that has been the basis for the court’s mandate,” he added.
Roque also said there has long been laws and a functioning criminal justice system in the Philippines.
“The Philippines is therefore prepared to act, as we have always so acted, to bring to bear our national criminal justice system upon those who violate our laws and post a threat to our national security,” he said.
Roque made the speech eight months after Jude Josue Sabio, lawyer of confessed hitman Edgar Matobato, complained to ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda that President Rodrigo Duterte and 11 of his senior officials committed crimes against humanity in relation to his war against drugs.