MANILA, Philippines – The International Criminal Court (ICC) could not be used as a venue to unseat President Rodrigo Duterte following a failed impeachment bid against the chief executive, House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas said on Wednesday.
Magdalo partylist Rep. Gary Alejano said his group might consider going to the Hague-based international tribunal after the impeachment complaint he had filed was junked by the House Committee on Justice.
But Fariñas said Alejano might have to wait for five more years or after the President’s term before he goes to the ICC and accuse Duterte before the tribunal of allegedly committing crimes against humanity.
He labeled Alejano’s move to file an impeachment complaint and his plan to go to the ICC as “wrong propaganda.”
“The ICC is a criminal court. Kailangan iyong ating criminal courts [Our criminal courts should not] have not acted or refused to act on the crimes committed by the person (accused of) crimes against humanity or war crimes,” Fariñas said.
According to the Ilocos Norte representative, the recent impeachment proceedings at the House of Representatives was an administrative action to remove the President from office.
“So, maghintay muna sila. Kaya nga nila gusto ma-impeach dahil hindi mo naman puwedeng idemanda si Presidente while in office [So they must wait first. They want him impeached because you can’t file cases against the President while he’s in office],” said Fariñas.
“Kaya nga maghintay sila after six years. Pero gusto nila magmadali. Gusto nila maalis para ma-file-an nila ng criminal case [Thus they need to wait after six years. But they are in a hurry. They want him removed from office so they could file a criminal case against him],” he added.
Fariñas said he had noticed that allegations on the crimes against humanity were frequently mentioned in Alejano’s dismissed impeachment complaint against Duterte.
“Nilalagay nila iyon para gagamitin lang nila sa propaganda nila—crimes against humanity. Hintayin nila matapos ‘yong term ni Presidente, charge him with crimes against humanity before the criminal courts,” he said.
[They included crimes against humanity in the complaint for the purpose of propaganda. They should wait for the President to finish his term, charge him with crimes against humanity before the criminal courts.]
Fariñas said ICC “is like a court of last resort for the global community” against erring leaders such as dictators accused of genocide, who could not be punished by the courts in his home country.
But he said Duterte’s case could not be compared to these cases against dictators that were elevated to the ICC because the accusations against the Philippine leader were just part of a “wrong” propaganda.
“Iyong ICC kasi parang court of last resort na sa worldwide global community. Halimbawa, iyong isang dictator d’yan, dami na n’yang genocide, dami na n’yang pinapapatay. S’yempre wala naman umaaksyon dahil dictator nga eh.”
“Eto iyong p’wede kang pumunta sa ICC, dahil meron s’yang mga biktima, katulad ng sa Bosnia. Dito naman napakalayo naman ng sitwasyon dito, pero alam mo na propagandist itong mga ito. Sorry, wrong propaganda.”
The Rome Statute is the treaty that established the ICC, the first permanent international court that is capable of trying perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression, the Statute’s four core international crimes.
The Philippines is among the 124 state parties to the Rome Statute, which ratified the treaty in August 2011.
Last month, lawyer Jude Sabio sent a 77-page communication to the ICC, alleging that Duterte and 11 other officials are liable for crimes against humanity in connection with the nationwide crackdown on drugs.