Palace: ICC report based on ‘hearsay’ information

President Rodrigo Duterte | PNA Photo by Richard Madelo

MALACAÑANG on Wednesday, June 16, maintained that International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s report on the country’s drug war is based on “hearsay information.”

“We’re confident it will not prosper beyond this stage, because, in the first place, you need the cooperation of the state for a case buildup. But right now, what they have is hearsay information,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in an interview on the ABS-CBN News Channel.

His statement came two days after Bensouda sought judicial authorization from The Hague tribunal to open a full-blown investigation into the drug war killings in the Philippines.

In the 57-page document released Monday, June 14, the Prosecutor said, “The Prosecution requests the Chamber to authorize the commencement of an investigation into the situation in the Philippines, in relation to crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court allegedly committed on the territory of the Philippines between 1 November 2011 and 16 March 2019 in the context of the War on Drugs campaign, as well as any other crimes which are sufficiently linked to these events.”

For his part, Roque claimed that the sources cited in the ICC report almost came solely from the media.

“I counted and about 85 percent of sources cited by the prosecutor in the preliminary examination report came from [the] media,” he said.

“As a lawyer, we know that media sources are considered hearsay. We need to present people who have actual personal knowledge of events to prove particularly criminal liability, which is proof beyond reasonable doubt,” he added.

Roque also insisted that the deaths that happened during operations under President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs were “collateral damage.”

“The reality is the alleged killings arising from the drug war were not killings intended to target civilians as such. They were collateral damage so to speak arising from a valid police operation,” he explained.

The spokesman went on to call Bensouda’s report as “fantastic,” adding that it is not based on forensic evidence.

“I find the report of Bensouda fantastic. Without resorting to forensic examination, without resorting to primary documents, relying only on media reports, she came up with a fantastic conclusion that almost all of the killings were in fact they themselves were nanlaban (resisted),” Roque said.

“To me, that’s really more of fiction or perhaps, conclusions as I said early based on hearsay information,” he added.

According to Roque, the ICC will need “primary evidence” for Bensouda’s case to prosper.

“Good luck because on the basis of the preliminary examination report, they need primary evidence. And in court, whether it be international, domestic, will require primary documents and primary evidence. Not the kind of evidence relied upon by Bensouda unfortunately,” he said.

“We’re just asserting that in this instance, there’s no jurisdiction because we never surrendered the obligation to investigate,” he added.

On Tuesday, June 15, Roque said that the Duterte administration will never cooperate with any ICC probe.

“Hinding-hindi magko-cooperate ang Presidente hanggang tapos ng kaniyang termino sa June 30, 2022 (The president will never cooperate until his term ends on June 30, 2022),” he said in press briefing.

“Hindi po natin alam kung anong magiging polisiya after 2022. ‘Yan po ay bibigyan ng kasagutan kung sino man ang susunod na Presidente ng Pilipinas (We do not know what the policy will be after 2022. That will be answered by whoever is the next president of the Philippines),” he added.

Roque also claimed that the investigation will only be “a waste of time and resources.”

“They will just waste time and resources of the court because, without cooperation from the Philippine state, they won’t be able to make a case except for one based on hearsay and from the communists and political enemies of the president,” he said. n

Ritchel Mendiola

Ritchel Mendiola is a staff writer and reporter for the Asian Journal. You can reach her at [email protected].

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