DAVAO CITY, March 31, 2017 — Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella yesterday told the International Criminal Court (ICC) to back off from the Philippines, saying its cannot arbitrarily interfere in the domestic affairs of a sovereign country.
There is no concrete evidence pointing to crimes against humanity here: such crimes must be widespread and systematically directed against a specific group. This element is absent in the Philippine situation,” Abella said.
His statement came after the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said the ICC is closely monitoring President Rodrigo Duterte’s war against illegal drug due to the high number of deaths.
Abella’s statement was also apparently in reference to statements made in October last year by ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, who said extrajudicial killings (EJKs) may fall under the jurisdiction of the ICC “if they are committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population pursuant to a State policy to commit such an attack.”
Abella, however, said the Senate has already absolved the President and that “there exists no such crime.”
The Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights had concluded in October, 2016 that Duterte had no involvement in alleged summary executions during his term as Davao City mayor and as President.
In an interview aired Tuesday over The World Tonight at ANC, CHR chair Chito Gascon said that number of deaths under the administration war against drugs has already breached the generally accepted threshold set by the international community for killings to be termed as widespread.
“The general consensus is that you have already reached at thousand deaths,” he said.
The Philippine National Police (PNA) has acknowledged that more than 2,500 have been killed in legitimate police anti-drug operations.
Thousands more were killed in vigilante-style killings believed to be the work of drug syndicate members out to silence their comrades.
But Gascon admitted that while the CHR is investigating possible cases of human rights violations in the drug war, it is not yet time to bring matters to the ICC.
“CHR prefers to pursue justice within our own national mechanisms,” Gascon said. (With reports from Cielito M. Reganit/PNA)