Duterte ready to face charges but only in Philippine courts, says Roque

Lawyer Harry Roque on Tuesday said former President Rodrigo Duterte is ready to face charges against him but only before Philippine courts.

In a television interview, Roque, who served as spokesman of the former president, said he had met with Duterte who had made his position “very clear” about the International Criminal Court.

“Now that he is no longer president, he no longer has immunity from suit. All those who have gripes or complaints against him should file their criminal complaints before a Philippine prosecutor and if there is probable cause, he is willing to face them but before a Philippine court,” Roque told ANC.

“If he’s found guilty for violating Philippine IHL law which restates the crimes punishable under the ICC, then he will face the consequence and face time in a Philippine jail. Under no circumstance will he allow any foreign prosecutor, any foreign judge, any foreign court to exercise jurisdiction over him,” he added.

The previous administration had insisted that the ICC has no jurisdiction over the country after the Philippines officially withdrew from the international court in March 2019.

To recall, ICC chief prosecutor Karim Khan requested to resume the investigation into the war on drugs that was carried out under the leadership of the former Philippine leader.

In its request, the prosecutor said the Philippine government was unable to demonstrate that it investigated or was looking into nationals or others connected with the series of killings linked to the drug war.

The Hague-based court also “invited” the Philippines to provide observations on its request to reopen the investigation into the drug war.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Monday disclosed that the Philippines has no intention of rejoining the ICC, insisting that the country has its own investigation into the killings linked to the Duterte administration’s drug war.

Restraining order

Meanwhile, Roque said Duterte is eyeing to seek a restraining order if ever he is ordered arrested amid an ICC investigation.

“It really was his solution that if for any reason the ICC will continue to exercise its jurisdiction, he will go before Philippine courts for a restraining order to restrain the Philippine police from serving the warrant of arrest against him,” Roque said.

“Because he will argue that Philippine courts are able and willing to prosecute these cases and therefore there’s no basis for foreign institutions to interfere and this is a consequence of a foreign country,” he added.

The former Palace spokesman dared those who have been accusing Duterte of committing human rights violation to lodge their complaints before local courts.

“My challenge is file it here in the Philippines and that is why somehow concluding that the reason why they went to ICC is really to embarrass the former President. Our institutions are working,” Roque, a lawyer, said. — Anna Felicia Bajo/RSJ/KBK, GMA News

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