Solicitor General Jose Calida said Tuesday he will initiate the filing of a disbarment case before the Supreme Court against Jude Sabio, the lawyer of self-confessed Davao Death Squad member Edgar Matobato, for filing "baseless suits."
Calida's threat came a day after Sabio charged him, along with Duterte and nine other government officials with crimes against humanity before the International Criminal Court over Duterte's bloody campaign against illegal drugs.
The top government lawyer traced Sabio's professional record and found out that Sabio appears "to be in the business of maliciously filing baseless suits based only on hearsays and unfounded suspicions."
In 2008, the SC sanctioned Sabio for filing a groundless bribery charge against Judge Alden Cervantes, who was the presiding judge of the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of Cabuyao, Laguna until his retirement in 2005.
Sabio had alleged that real estate firm Extraordinary Development Corporation (EDC) gave Cervantes a house and lot that supposedly put into serious doubt the latter's impartiality, independence and integrity as a judge in the ejectment cases filed by the EDC against Sabio's clients.
The SC dismissed Sabio's complaint for lack of merit. It also ordered Sabio to pay a fine of P5,000 and warned him that “a repetition of the same or similar questioned act will be dealt with more severely.”
The SC said that Sabio violated the proscription in the lawyers’ Code of Professional Responsibility against wittingly or willingly promoting or suing any groundless suit including baseless administrative complaints against judges and other court officers and employees.
“This perennial loser stubbornly refuses to heed the warning from the Supreme Court that if he commits the same infraction, he will be punished more severely,” Calida said. “We will see him in court.”
Reacting on his inclusion in the complaint with the ICC, Calida said that his media interviews were "maliciously taken out of context."
According to Calida, his statement was made in the context of the then Senate inquiry, chaired by Senator Leila de Lima, on the administration’s anti-drug campaign.
“I told the members of the Philippine National Police that if the Senate investigation was not in aid of legislation, the OSG will defend them if they are called to appear before the Senate,” Calida said. “Obviously, they took my words out of context in order to include me in the communication.”
Calida also believes the complaint will not prosper.
“At this stage, based on the communication, the ICC has no jurisdiction to take cognizance of the case,” the solicitor general said. “The case will not progress beyond the filing of the communication as it is utterly bereft of merit.”
“There is no State policy, express or implied, directing an attack against any civilian population or the sanctioning of extrajudicial killings on drug-related cases,” Calida said.
The solicitor general said that the important element of mens rea or intent or knowledge to commit crimes against humanity does not exist in this case.
“To satisfy the requisite element of mens rea in these crimes, an accused must be aware that his acts are part of a widespread or systematic attack on a civilian population and that these acts are pursuant to some kind of policy or plan,” he said
According to Calida, Duterte has expressly disavowed and condemned the killing of innocent civilians in the pursuit of legitimate law enforcement operations.
“The apparent image of widespread and systematic extrajudicial killings is belied by the concrete actions initiated by the President and the sanctions imposed against erring law enforcers,” Calida said.
He said the ICC normally considers the scale, nature, manner of commission of the crimes, and their impact in determining whether a case meets the gravity threshold.
“As to the element of the manner of commission, since there is no State-sponsored plan or policy, the situation does not fall within the scope of the ICC’s mandate,” Calida said.
“It must be stressed that the ICC does not replace the national courts of a particular country,” Calida said. “The principle of complementarity underpins the creation of the ICC. The ICC may only exercise jurisdiction where national legal systems fail to do so."