MALACAÑANG urged its critics to "change tack" and "be positive in outlook" after Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chair Jose Luis Martin Gascon called for the International Criminal Court's (ICC) formal probe into President Rodrigo Duterte.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said instead of defaming Duterte, Gascon must start contributing to the progress of the country.
"Expectedly, Commission on Human Rights Chairman Jose Luis Martin 'Chito' Gascon has again politicized the issue of human rights during the launch of the 2018 Human Rights Festival," he said in a statement released Monday night.
"Perhaps it is about time for the detractors to change their tack and be positive in their outlook. They can start contributing to the peace, safety and progress of our country by joining in the efforts to effect the desired change for the nation," he added.
Panelo made the remark after Gascon expressed optimism that the formal investigation of Duterte's alleged human rights violations would commence by the first quarter of 2019 before the ICC.
In August, families of alleged victims of extrajudicial killings filed a communication against Duterte before the ICC, accusing the President of committing crimes against humanity in connection with his deadly crackdown on illegal drugs.
Prior to the filing of the communication in August, Duterte is already facing a communication lodged before the ICC by lawyer Jude Sabio in April 2017 and a supplemental communication by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano in June 2017.
Sabio, Trillanes, and Alejano sought the international court's intervention in the Duterte government's brutal drug war.
In February, ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda began the preliminary examination of Duterte's supposed human rights violations attributed to his drug war.
The international court's initial review of the Philippines's situation prompted Duterte to declare on March 14 that the Philippines is withdrawing its membership from the ICC "effective immediately."
The Philippines, however, is still a member-state of the ICC, as Article 127 of the Rome Statute provides that the withdrawal from the ICC "shall take effect one year after the date of receipt of the notification, unless the notification specifies a later date."
But for Panelo, the public's acceptance of Duterte's policies remained "unchanged" more than two years since the Chief Executive assumed office.
Panelo also stressed that Duterte's words are "searing" only to individuals "who mock and derail his undertakings to create an environment of sustainable peace, order and progress for our people."
"He continues to be the most approved and trusted national official in the country. This is a testament that our people have accepted his authenticity and candor as a leader," Duterte's spokesman said.
"Honesty is still the best policy. The President’s words are hurtful and harmful only to those who cannot accept -- or refuse to accept -- the truth. Or having accepted the truth, they cannot admit the falsity of their opposite stance," he added. (SunStar Philippines)