Orders study of government position on ICC resuming probe of drug war
The Philippines has no intention of rejoining the International Criminal Court (ICC), President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said Monday.
The decision came after Marcos met last week with the top lawyers and officials of his administration to discuss their strategy on the ICC’s investigation of alleged human rights violations in the Philippines during his predecessor’s bloody war on drugs.
Marcos said that he instructed the administration’s lawyers to study the procedure for responding to the investigation.
At the meeting last week were Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Juan Ponce Enrile, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla, Executive Secretary Vic Rodriguez, and former Palace spokesman Harry Roque.
“What we discussed during the meeting is what the ICC is saying that they will proceed with an investigation. But what we are saying is it is already being investigated here. The investigation is ongoing, so why would there be a need for it?” he said.
Last month, ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan requested the resumption of the investigation into President Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-drug campaign after it was put on hold following a deferral request from the Philippine government.
The ICC previously said it retains jurisdiction over alleged crimes committed while the country was still a member of the tribunal.
Duterte pulled the Philippines out of the ICC in 2018, just weeks after then-ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced that a preliminary examination was underway into his administration’s drug war.
The withdrawal took effect on March 17, 2019.
In a 53-page document posted on ICC’s website on June 24, Khan asked the Pre-Trial Chamber to resume the investigation into the drug war, noting that the investigation carried out by the Philippines “does not sufficiently mirror the investigation to be conducted by the prosecution.”
Duterte has insisted that the Rome Statute, which created the ICC, specified that the ICC can only prosecute such complaints if the member-nation did not have a working judicial system, or the government refused to prosecute such crimes.
Previously, Marcos said he would continue the Duterte administration’s drug war with the same vigor but will focus on the “prevention side” instead of the “enforcement side” carried out by the previous administration.
Senator Aquilino Pimentel III disagreed with the President’s decision, but acknowledged that “since he is the President, it is his decision which will be followed.”
Senator Risa Hontiveros acknowledged that it is a presidential prerogative but called Marcos’s decision “regrettable” because the Rome Statute that created the ICC is the collective commitment of the community of nations against state-sponsored impunity.
“I hope he will not undermine or block investigations of acts or violations that took place before the Philippines withdrew from the ICC.”
“They should not be hampered in doing their job. If there is nothing to conceal, why should be they scared of any investigation?” she added.
Former senator Leila de Lima, who is detained on drug charges that she has denied, said Marcos’s advisors had failed him. “Wrong advice. Bad for the country,” she said.