MANILA -- Former Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Monday said the International Criminal Court (ICC) complaint against President Rodrigo R. Duterte has ended effectively after the court failed to launch a preliminary investigation before the country's withdrawal from the ICC took effect on Sunday.
"Malinaw ang Rome Statute. Para magpatuloy 'yan dapat nagsampa ng preliminary investigation ang prosecution bago naging epektibo ang pagbibitiw natin o pag-kalas natin sa ICC (The Rome Statute is clear. For it to prosper, the prosecution should have filed a preliminary investigation before our withdrawal from the ICC took effect)," Roque told reporters on the sidelines of the kick-off ceremony of the 7th Biennial Conference of the Asian Society of International Law in Pasay City.
Roque said that a preliminary examination initiated against Duterte in 2018 is not the actual probe yet.
"Kinakailangan na bago mag-withdraw, para magkaroon ng jurisdiction ang ICC ay mayroon nang preliminary investigation, and since walang ganon, patay na po, ibinasura na lahat ng reklamo laban kay President Duterte (For ICC to have jurisdiction, there should be preliminary investigation even before the withdrawal and since there was none, the complaint against President Duterte is junked)," he said.
The country's withdrawal from the ICC took effect on Sunday, a year after the government served its notice of withdrawal from the Rome Statute to the United Nations.
This makes the Philippines the second country to pull out from the only war crimes tribunal in the world after Burundi cancelled its ICC membership in 2017.
While the investigation against Burundi continued even after it departed as an ICC member, Roque said the case with the Philippines is different because the international court was able to launch an investigation against the African state a day before the withdrawal process ended in 2017.
Meanwhile, he underscored that the ICC is the court of "last resort" which could only assume jurisdiction when the national government has failed to address its international crimes.
If the president has violated any law, he said the complaint should have been filed before a Philippine court first such as the Ombudsman that has the power to investigate and recommend impeachment against a sitting president.
"Gumagana po ang mga hukuman natin at gaya nga ng sabi ko kanina insulto para sa kahit sinong Filipino na ihahambing ang ating mga hudikatura sa mga bansa na ngayon ay dinidinig ng ICC. Sudan, Burundi, parang 'di naman ganyan ang mga huwes sa Pilipinas at walang dahilan para umakto ang ICC (Our judicial system is working well and as I have said, it is an insult for Filipinos to compare our judicial system with that of countries being heard by the ICC -- Sudan, Burundi — our justice system is not like theirs and there are no reasons for ICC to act on)," he added. (PNA)