FILE: President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, in his speech during the opening ceremony of the National Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Challenge at the Team Davao Inc. Pistol and Rifle Range in Ma-a, Davao City on March 1, 2018, expresses his admiration for the SWAT’s role in dealing with criminality, illegal drugs and terrorism. JOEY DALUMPINES/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO
MANILA, Philippines — Violation of due process and attacks from United Nations (UN) officials that violate the constitutional provision on the presumption of innocence are the reasons why President Rodrigo Duterte decided on the Philippines’ withdrawal from the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) founding treaty, the Rome Statute, “effective immediately”.
ICC hears cases on crimes against humanity.
“Ang nagiging problema kasi sa ICC (The problem with ICC), from the perception of the President, it has become a political tool to harass a particular country like ours,” said presidential chief legal counsel Secretary Salvador Panelo.
Based on the statement of the President, there appears to be a concerted effort on the part of the UN special rapporteurs to paint him as a ruthless and heartless violator of human rights who allegedly caused thousands of extrajudicial killings.
The President also claims that the ICC has made a premature public pronouncement of its preliminary examination on the anti-drug war of his administration.
The examination came after the information was filed by the camp of self-confessed hitman Edgar Matobato and his lawyer Atty. Jude Sabio as well as Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and Magdalo party-list Representative Gary Alejano in 2017.
The President argued that such move gave the impression that he has already been charged of serious crimes in the International Criminal Court under its jurisdiction.
It was in 2011 when the Philippines joined the ICC as the 117th member-state after it ratified its Rome Statute.
However, this is not enforceable because the government then failed to publicize the said Rome Statute in its Official Gazette.
“Rome Statute should have been published in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation before it could be deemed effective in this country. Since it was not, there is no Rome Statute to speak of in the first place,” said the presidential chief legal counsel.
Aside from this, the government also insists that the acts complained of in relation to the anti-drug war are neither genocide nor war crimes since the deaths occurring in the process of legitimate police operation lacked the intent to kill and police only defended themselves against violent resistance of drug personalities.
The statements of UN special rapporteur Agnes Callamard as well as UN human rights chief Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein are biased and show a refusal to respect the Philippines independence from foreign influence and control.
The preliminary examination also by Prosecutor Fatou Besouda seems to appear that ICC is being used as a political tool against the Philippines.
Meanwhile, Senate President Koko Pimentel said they have no power to reverse the decision of the President on the issue of withdrawal from ICC.
“It’s just simple notification from the state,” said Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III.
“If I were president, gagawin ko rin yun . Imagine, sino nagrereklamo? Tapos ano ang mga alegasyon? Hindi ba ito domestic policy? This is law enforcement,” said Pimentel.
( If I were president I would’ve done the same. Imagine, who is complaining? What are the allegations? Is this not a domestic policy? This is law enforcement.)
The government, on the other hand, denied that President Duterte is copping out from his alleged potential liability or responsibility.
“Ever since naman sinasabi ni President Duterte na we’re open to investigation from any human rights body. Pumunta lang kayo rito. Hindi yung you rely on what you read, on what you received on the kind of information na false. Punta kayo rito. Tignan ninyo yung bansa natin,” said Panelo.
(The President ever since has said that we’re open to investigation from any human rights body. Just come to the country and not rely on what you read, what you receive — the kind of information that is false. Come here and check out for yourself.) — Rosalie Coz | UNTV News and Rescue
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has urged lawmakers to prioritize the passage of the remaining economic and public service measures that are included in his administration’s legislative agenda.
Duterte made the call during the re-enactment of the signing of several laws that were already enacted in May.
“I hope that when both houses of Congress resume sessions this year, priority will be given to the remaining flagship programs of my administration,” he said in a speech at the Malacañan Palace on Wednesday.
These bills include the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program and the Retail Trade Liberalization Act, the Foreign Investments Act, and the Public Service Act.
Duterte said he wants to sign these measures “at the earliest possible time.”
During the ceremony, the president also thanked members of Congress for their efforts in ensuring that his administration’s legislative agenda will be translated into relevant policies and programs that will improve the lives of Filipinos and revive the country’s economy from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Duterte described Wednesday’s event as a testament to the “fruitful collaboration between the legislative and executive branches of government.”
“These laws – which open more opportunities for our people to serve in government and enable some of our LGUs to render more efficient and inclusive service – are part of our vision of bringing government closer to the people,” he said.
The president expressed optimism that more government agencies cooperate as the country takes more concrete steps to revive the economy and help the people recover from the effects of the pandemic.
“Now, more than ever, we need to follow the whole-of-nation approach in ensuring an inclusive and seamless response to the current challenges facing the nation,” he said.
“To the Filipino people, let me assure you that your government will continue to pursue measures that will improve and enhance your way of life,” he added.
Duterte also expressed confidence that with the help of Congress, his administration can pursue its legislative agenda that will improve and enhance the lives of Filipinos and promote the nation’s progress.
Among the recently signed laws that the President ceremonially signed were Republic Act (RA) 11549 or An Act Lowering the Minimum Height Requirement for Applicants of the Philippine National Police (PNP), Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), and Bureau of Corrections (BuCor); RA 11544 or An Act Converting the Municipality of Calaca in the Province of Batangas Into a Component City To Be Known as the City of Calaca; RA 11545 or An Act Reapportioning the First Legislative District of the City of Caloocan Into Two Legislative Districts; and RA 11546 or An Act Reapportioning the Province of Bulacan Into Six Legislative Districts.
Congress will resume session on July 26 when the president delivers his final State of the Nation Address.
MANILA, Philippines — Complainants in the Philippines’ drug war issue said there won’t be any problem even if the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte won’t cooperate in the investigation that was sought by former International Criminal Court Prosecutor (ICC) Fatou Bensouda.
According to Atty. Kristina Conti of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) who stands as one of the legal counsels of the complainants, they are more than willing to support the investigation by providing witnesses and pieces of evidence.
“Kung usapin naman access doon sa witnesses doon sa mga dokumento na hindi makapasok sa PIlipinas, pwede naman kami gumawa ng paraan na kami yung mga witnesses yung lalabas ng bansa,” Conti said.
She said that although officials of the Duterte government have the right to remain silent about the issue, the complainants have the right to access evidence under the Freedom of Information Law, especially if the killings involved their loved ones.
They believe justice will be served as culprits in the crime will soon be put behind bars.
“Hindi kami sasalalay doon sa kung ano ang sasabihin nila. Hindi kami sasalalay kung ano ang aaminin nila. Sasalalay kami doon sa lakas namin. The strength of the prosecution will rely kung ano yung aming ebidensya,” the lawyer added.
Atty. Neri Colmenares who also stands as one of the legal counsels of the complainants expressed confidence that the case will yield positive results in their favor.
“We are very confident na magawa and of course hopefully ang bagong presidente sa 2022 will not protect President Duterte lalo na kung wala na siya sa pwesto,” he said.
The NUPL said they expected the administration’s refusal to cooperate in the probe which was obvious when the national government decided to withdraw from the ICC sometime in 2019 when attempts to investigate the so-called extrajudicial killings in the Philippines surfaced.
“Alam ito ni Secretary Roque bilang familiar siya sa ICC. States have the responsibility to fulfill their duties even after they have left the ICC kasi itong imbestigasyon na ito ay nasimulan noong miyembro pa tayo hindi pwedeng aalis na lang tayo tapos bahala na,” Conti argued.
The group is asking President Duterte that, for the sake of fairness, if the Chief Executive chooses to keep mum on the issue, he should at least allow the investigation and provide protection to the complainants and the witnesses. –MNP (with reports from Dante Amento)
MANILA, Philippines – Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Wednesday said the opposition group “must go beyond an anti-Duterte platform” in next year’s elections.
“The opposition must go beyond an anti-Duterte platform. The opposition must present a platform, which says that we can do better in the pandemic response because this is where the errors are committed and this is what we are going to do,” Drilon said in a television interview.
When asked to comment on observations that there is no one strong opposition candidate at this point, the senator said that having one opposition candidate is “desirable” but admits to it being a “very difficult task.”
“… [I]t is desirable to have one opposition candidate. That is what the 1Sambayan is trying to do. That is a very difficult task. They have taken upon themselves that difficult task. We support their effort,” he said.
“We do hope that the opposition can come up with only one candidate. As in any election in the past, the administration would always have the advantage. We must exert every effort to have one candidate to oppose the administration candidate,” he added.
Last week, political coalition 1Sambayan revealed their list of presidential and vice-presidential nominees. The list includes Vice President Leni Robredo, former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, Batangas Rep. Vilma Santos, Senator Grace Poe, human rights lawyer Chel Diokno, and CIBAC party-list Representative Eddie Villanueva.
If Robredo decides not to run in 2022 polls, Drilon, who sits as Liberal Party vice chairperson, said the Liberal Party is open to alliances.
“That is the reality of politics today. As we said, we should only have one candidate. We cross our fingers that VP Robredo will decide to run for president and we believe she is the strongest and, hopefully, she can unite all the non-Duterte candidates,” he said.
“If she does not run for the presidency, then the LP will have to meet and see where we will go from there,” he added.
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