Roque hits back at De Lima over ICC comment

MANILA -- Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Sunday hit back at detained Senator Leila de Lima after she criticized him in his speech before the International Criminal Court (ICC).

"We should no longer give credence to anything that comes from Senator Leila de Lima as this is from a polluted source, who was accused of drug trafficking by at least 13 witnesses", Roque said in a statement.

De Lima accused Roque of "spinning" statements after the latter asked ICC not to meddle on alleged human rights violations related to President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs.

Roque downplayed the detained senator's comments and instead urged her to "concentrate all her efforts in clearing her name in the non-bailable and heinous criminal cases pending against her" instead of engaging in "political grandstanding."

Roque has asked the ICC to respect national proceedings on illegal drugs and terrorism and warned it against being misled by critics who wanted Duterte charged before the tribunal.

Roque also raised the possibility of Manila leaving the ICC if it violates the Rome statute anchored on the principle of complementarity -- if it supersedes the jurisdiction of local courts.

De Lima said Roque can't "get away with murder so easily" by withdrawing from the ICC.

Roque said the lady senator's opinion reflects her utter lack of understanding of the principle of complementarity in international law.

"This is no longer surprising since her professional practice was limited to election laws. To reiterate, it must first be shown that the State is unwilling or unable to prosecute crimes in order for the International Criminal Court to intervene," Roque said.

De Lima is currently detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center inside Camp Crame after she was arrested last February over her supposed involvement in the rampant drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison when she was Justice secretary.

Source: Philippine News Agency