Duterte on Rome Statute: ‘I never read the law’
CAMP GEN. MARIANO CASTAÑEDA, Cavite — President Rodrigo Duterte challenged again the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate his administration’s war on drugs by questioning the validity of an international treaty, which he said he had not read.
At the 39th Commencement Exercises of the Philippine National Police Academy here on Wednesday, Duterte said the ICC, which initiated a preliminary examination into the alleged crimes against humanity committed by his administration, failed to observe the due process of the law because the Rome Statute never got published in the Official Gazette in the first place.
The Rome Statute, a treaty adopted in 1998, led to the creation of the ICC.
Duterte last week announced that the Philippines was withdrawing from the treaty.
“What is the due process involved here? Publication. So that you will be put to notice. But they never published it. Sila-sila lang ‘yan sa Senate, ‘yung Presidente nagpirma at ipinadala kaagad sa Rome,” Duterte said in his speech.
“I never read the law. I was a mayor then. Wala akong nabasa. I was not put on notice. Is it a legal excuse? Yes. Eh bakit ‘di ko gamitin? Napakabobo ko namang abogado,” he added.
Duterte, who was mayor of Davao City for 23 years before he was elected president, was also a prosecutor for eight years.
He said the ICC – which has jurisdiction over genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes – did not even have jurisdiction over extrajudicial killings.
“Wala ngang extrajudicial [killing] diyan eh. [Based on] the definition of crimes and penalties, it is purely a criminal international law… If it is a law, especially a criminal law that there is a sanction, mapreso ka. It must be published because the law says: ‘No, you cannot… Ignorance of the law excuses no one’.”
“So what is the mechanism that would change the story? It’s the publication,” he said. “When it is published in the Gazette, it now puts you on notice, at least constructive notice na may batas even a treaty or a law or what, whatever, lalo na kung may pressure.”
“Eh kung walang publication, there is no law to be talking about. What is the basis for continuing an investigation if the law that you are relying is flawed and it is a total alien to us?” he said.
No more drama
Addressing the members of the PNPA Maragtas (Magiting at Responsableng Alagad ng Batas na Gagabay sa Transpormasyong Alay sa Bayang Sinilangan) Class of 2018, Duterte urged the policemen to just continue doing their jobs “in accordance with the law.”
“Just do it. And if you have to kill because you are in danger of losing your life, unahan mo, patayin mo na,” he said. “And I will take care of you. Ilang beses ko na sinasabi ‘yan na do not worry about cases kasi ako fiscal for eight years.”
He said the issue of killings blamed to his government’s crackdown on illegal drugs was an “old issue” that started when he ran for presidency.
“Ang issue sa akin, babae [womanizing] pati patay. On both counts totoo ‘yun.. Para ‘wag na tayong mag-drama,” the president said.
Thousands of death
Duterte said that in many cases policemen were afraid to perform their duties in fear of counter charges or being suspended or fired from their jobs.
Aside from the illegal drug trade, Duterte said his government was also fighting the Muslim “secessionist movement” and insurgency by the communist New People’s Army.
He said “three to four” police officers on an average die each day fighting throughout the country.
“Itong mga human rights (advocates), ang akala nila lahat namatay doon lang sa (enemy’s side)… Then how about my policemen? …They number into thousands already and yet we’re not – hindi pa tayo nag-umpisa ng trial nito about that ICC,” he said. “Gusto kong ipakain sa kanila ‘yung statistics,” he said.
Duterte also cited a March 5 issue of the Time Magazine that featured the US narcotics problem, in which 63,000 people die each year. US President Donald Trump recently announced that he was adopting the death penalty as punishment for opioids and other drug traffickers.
“If you destroy my country, I will kill you. What is wrong with that statement? If I say that you destroy the youth of the land where is the wrong there? I never said,‘’You kill Mr. Chua, Mr. Lee’,” Duterte said.
The president said he would not “renege” amid the examination by the international tribunal. “Believe me I am brighter than them,” he said. /atm