Even if the Philippines no longer rejoins the International Criminal Court, as a matter of “comity” or courtesy, the government could share with the ICC information on the progress of its drug war review, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said Tuesday.
“We will furnish them with the available information as a matter of comity… out of our friendship with them, out of decency, we will give it to them if they ask for it,” Remulla said.
The numerous cases of killings linked to the Duterte administration’s drug war are already being speedily investigated by the government, Malacañang added Tuesday.
The Palace made the statement after President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Monday ruled out the Philippines rejoining the ICC after discussing the resumption of the ICC investigation with his legal team last week.
In a briefing, Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles further explained that the President’s decision not to rejoin ICC is “an issue of sovereignty.”
“Complaints about those who died during the drug war are being investigated, so there is no need to respond to the ICC or for our country to return to the Rome Statute,” she said.
Cruz-Angeles acknowledged the grievances aired by the families of drug war victims but assured them that legal institutions are fully capable of helping them achieve justice.
She said there is no need to call on the President to order an immediate probe into drug war cases because this is already being done.
Joining the ICC anew “is tantamount to surrendering our sovereignty,” stressed Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, who was national police chief under President Rodrigo Duterte when the drug war was carried out.
“I must admit it, being the number 2 accused, I am happy,” said Dela Rosa in reaction to Marcos’ statement.
Sen. Christopher Go, Duterte’s longtime aide, also said he firmly believes the country has “a vibrant, robust, and functional democracy” and thus “our courts remain independent.”
“To allow the ICC, which we are not a member of to begin with, to investigate domestic cases is an affront to the supremacy of our courts and sovereignty of our country,” Go said.
Anybody has the freedom to file a case in court against anyone in accordance with the law and evidence, the senator added.
As a former fiscal and a lawyer, Duterte knows if what he did was legal or not, Go added.
“And I trust that he is not hiding something from the public,” he said.
Remulla reiterated his statement that if the ICC would ask for a report on the progress of their drug war investigation, “we will give them a report out of comity.”
However, the Justice Secretary stressed that the Philippines is not a “banana republic” and on its own could investigate alleged extra-judicial killings (EJKs) that were reportedly committed by members of the Philippine National Police during their anti-illegal drugs operations under the Duterte administration.
“We have withdrawn from the ICC. They say that they want to investigate crimes here in the country, but we have a functioning judicial system. It’s not perfect but it’s functioning. We are not a banana republic. So why should they want to go to the country?” he said.
“Unless the agenda is political, and we don’t want political agenda by people other than us. We do our politics in our own country, not foreigners,” Remulla added.
An ICC pre-trial chamber has allowed a probe of Duterte’s anti-drug crackdown and has given the Philippines until Sept. 8 to submit additional observations on the planned resumption of the investigation.
According to Remulla, the DOJ is currently gathering data on the progress of investigations related to the drug war probe.
The Justice Secretary admitted they were still collecting the reports on the drug war investigation that were submitted during the time of his predecessor and current Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra.
Under Guevarra, the DOJ coordinated with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to review the police anti-illegal drug operations that led to deaths.
The DOJ earlier said at least 150 policemen are under investigation for their involvement in 52 anti-illegal drug operations where deaths occurred.
Guevarra earlier said 250 more cases of anti-illegal drug operations that resulted in deaths would be forwarded to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for investigation and case build-up.