Tolentino eyes showdown between Duterte and ICC in Senate hearing
MANILA, Philippines — There just might be a showdown coming between former President Rodrigo Duterte and representatives of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which is poised to probe into his brutal “drug war” campaign.
This, as Senator Francis Tolentino said he is working to make this happen since the Senate justice and human rights committee, which he leads, is considering conducting hearings on resolutions urging the upper chamber to come to the defense of Duterte amid the ICC drug war investigation.
In an online news conference on Wednesday, Tolentino said he is “inclined, if time permits, to conduct a hearing concerning the [resolutions]” after the rules panel, chaired by Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva, referred to his committee Senate Resolution Nos. 488 and 492 — filed by Duterte allies Senators Robin Padilla and Jinggoy Estrada.
READ: Resolution backing ex-President Duterte vs ICC ‘drug war’ probe filed at Senate
READ: Duterte allies in Senate back bid to block ICC probe
“With all due respect, siguro kahit Zoom na kung sakali. Pero I still have to study the need for other resource persons. I’m thinking of having a resource person coming from the ICC itself. Kung papayag sila, kahit Zoom sila. Para ipaliwanag nila iyong hinihingi nila,” he said when asked if they will invite the former president to participate in the hearing.
(With all due respect, maybe just via Zoom if ever. But I still have to study the need for other resource persons. I’m thinking of having a resource person coming from the ICC itself. I’m thinking of having a resource person coming from the ICC itself. If they will agree, even just through Zoom as well. So they can explain what they’re asking for.)
Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra – the Philippine government’s legal representative – will also be among the resource persons in the hearing, Tolentino noted.
“I would want to have Mr. Khan [there] to explain the reason why they insisted that the pleading filed by the Office of the Solicitor General was not complete or was not conclusive enough,” the senator added.
Tolentino also said they would iron out the details of the committee hearing within the week.
“Iyong time frame, baka madaling araw doon. Hindi naman ako papayag na ako ang madaling araw dito. Dapat masunod doon Philippine time. Hindi iyong time nila. Otherwise, baka tulog pa lahat kayo,” he said.
(The time frame might be dawn there. I won’t allow it to be held at dawn here. They should follow the Philippine time. Not their time. Otherwise, you all might still be sleeping.)
READ: PH formally asks ICC not to reopen drug war probe
ICC prosecutor Karim Khan has secured the go-ahead of the ICC Pre-trial Chamber (PTC) to continue his office’s investigation of Duterte’s drug war.
The ICC Appeals Chamber has likewise denied the appeal of the Philippine government to suspend the investigation, pending its request for the PTC to reverse the decision authorizing a full-blown probe into the war on drugs.
In its eight-page ruling, the appeals chamber said it did not find “persuasive reasons” to grant the Philippine government’s plea for a suspension.
READ: PH to ‘disengage’ as ICC junks appeal on probe
Aside from being the chairperson of the Senate committee on justice and human rights, Tolentino will also be the legal counsel of Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, who along with Duterte and several others are facing crimes against humanity complaints before the United Nations-backed ICC due to their roles in the bloody anti-drug campaign.
Dela Rosa was Duterte’s first national police chief.
“Whether that would compromise my being a counsel for Senator dela Rosa, that remains to be seen. Baka ako naman iyong kwestyunin nila, ‘Ikaw iyong abogado ni Senator dela Rosa, bakit ikaw iyong nagpapatawag ng hearing?’ Let’s see how that would evolve. That might be a preliminary determination of our next actions,” Tolentino explained.
(Whether that would compromise my being a counsel for Senator dela Rosa, that remains to be seen. They might question me and say, ‘You’re Senator dela Rosa’s lawyer, why are you calling for this hearing?’ Let’s see how that would evolve. That might be a preliminary determination of our next actions.)
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