Ellen Tordesillas

ICC will be the next battleground

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It was not surprising that the Malacañang-friendly congressmen killed on Monday, May 15, without much fuss the impeachment complaint against President Duterte filed by Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano.

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, also a member of the Magdalo group (which started as a group of young military officers advocating for reforms in the military), lamented the quick dismissal of the impeachment rap saying that the members of the House Justice committee didn’t even study the content of the complaint when they decided that although it was sufficient in form, it was not sufficient in substance.

But Trillanes, one of the few who dare oppose Duterte, said it’s not the end of the quest for a better government for the Filipino people.

In fact, the dismissal of impeachment complaint would even bolster the communication filed by lawyer Jude Sabio against Duterte before the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

A policy paper on preliminary examinations of the Rome Statute that created the ICC explained that “should a State remain inactive or otherwise be unwilling or unable genuinely to investigate and prosecute crimes under the Court’s jurisdiction, the ICC could independently decide to step in.”

The goal of the Rome Statute is to put an end to impunity for the most serious crimes of international concern and one of them is crime against humanity.

Alejano took exception to the committee’s assessment of his complaint that it didn’t meet the criteria of sufficiency in substance.

He said the rules on impeachment (Paragraph 2, Section 4) set the following criteria: “The requirement of substance is met if there is a recital of facts constituting the offense charged and determinative of the jurisdiction of the committee.”

Explained Alejano: “Sa Tagalog po at sa simpleng pananalita, tatlong bagay lang ang kailangan para masabing sufficient in substance ang isang Impeachment Complaint ayon mismo sa ating Rules. “Una, kailangan mayroon itong “recital of facts” o paglalahad ng mga pangyayari; Pangalawa, dapat ang “recital of facts” o mga pangyayaring nilahad ay nagsasaad ng isang offense o paglabag sa batas; at  Pangatlo, ang offense o paglabag ay nasa jurisdiction ng Committee as animpeachment body.”

He said the three “facts” cited in his impeachment complaint are the extrajudicial killings of drug suspects under the  guise of the Administration’s War on Drugs; his hidden wealth amounting billions,  properties not included in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Networth and the 11,000 ghost employees when he was Davao City mayor; and his neglect in protecting the Philippine sovereignty over the West Philippine Sea, his unwillingness to make China ask China to comply with the Arbitral Court decision and his giving China permission to survey in Benham Rise which is in the Philippine extended continental shelf.

Alejano said the determination of probable cause through authenticated evidence, presentation of witnesses  and subpoena of records should be done after the complaint has passed sufficiency in form and substance. 

“Ngunit, ginawa na ito ng Committee on Justice kahit na sa stage pa lamang ng determination ng sufficiency in form,” he said.

That’s because the order was to quash and they obeyed.


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