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Parang kailan lang: Roque thanked PNoy for making membership to ICC happen

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Once upon a time, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque was a human rights lawyer who rejoiced when the Philippines became a member of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

In a blog entry titled “At long last” posted in August 2011, Roque shared how he waited with bated breath with other ICC supporters for the Senate to give its concurrence to the tribunal’s Rome Statute.

He thanked the Senate and then-President Benigno Aquino III when the Philippines’ membership to the ICC became official.

“To be candid, I never thought that membership in the ICC was possible, at least before I become geriatric. This is because of the many atrocities under both the Marcos and Arroyo regimes that remain unpunished,” Roque said.

“Well, it’s always a pleasure to be proven wrong. Here, credit should go to both the Senate and to President Benigno Aquino III. It was the latter who reversed the Arroyo policy of rejecting the ICC as a means of ending impunity,” he added.

Close to seven years later, Roque is singing a different tune.

In an interview over dzMM radio Wednesday (March 14), Roque scored the preliminary investigation launched by the ICC on the Philippines as a political move.

ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda earlier announced that the tribunal will be conducting a preliminary probe to look into the alleged crimes committed by the police in connection with the administration’s war on drugs.

Roque said that under the principle of “complementarity,” the ICC will only step in if the courts of a member state are not functioning or unwilling to prosecute individuals.

“So malinaw na itong pagsimula lang ng tinatawag na preliminary examination na ito, bagama’t hindi pa pormal na proseso, ito’y napaka-politikal na proseso na parang ito’y kumikiling doon sa mga kalaban ng ating Presidente, dahil dapat ‘yan binasura, hindi na pinansin,” he said.

Dutertte has announced that the Philippines will be withdrawing from the ICC effective immediately due to the “baseless” attacks against him.