The Office of the Solicitor General on Sunday said the Philippines does not need the help of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in investigating the Duterte administration’s bloody war on drugs because the country can do the probe on its own.
Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra said the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is already investigating the 52 cases of police operations that resulted in the deaths of alleged drug suspects, of which over 20 findings have been submitted to the Department of Justice for a preliminary investigation to determine probable cause.
“Why do you [ICC] have to interfere in our investigations? You may not be happy with the results so far, but it doesn’t mean that our judicial and legal system is not functioning. We don’t need you,” he said in an interview with radio dzBB.
ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan said last week that the Philippine government’s arguments against the resumption of the ICC investigation on the Duterte administration’s war on drugs were without merit. He also reiterated his request that the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber order the resumption of the probe.
The Philippine government earlier asked the ICC to dismiss the case, saying the international tribunal lacks jurisdiction on the matter, and that the alleged crimes are insufficiently grave to warrant further action. It also pointed out that it has investigated and prosecuted the alleged crimes or is currently doing so.
Guevarra also admitted that it takes longer for the NBI to investigate the bloody war on drugs due to the lack of witnesses.
“The problem is the witnesses…It is really hard for the NBI to validate the cases because the witnesses who may have known what really happened refuse to testify. Even the relatives of the deceased drug suspects are not showing up,” he said.
Nonetheless, the Solicitor General urged the witnesses to appear before the DOJ instead, if they are afraid of the consequences of testifying to the Philippine National Police.
Guevarra also underscored that the Philippines is no longer a member of the ICC, which gives the country more reason not to allow the international tribunal to investigate the drug war.
In 2018, President Rodrigo Duterte withdrew the Philippines’ membership from the Rome Statute, the treaty that governs the Hague-based International Criminal Court. The withdrawal took effect in 2019 after the tribunal began a preliminary probe into the killings under the war on illegal drugs.
“As long as the issue on the admissibility of the case is not finalized or settled, the Philippine government will not allow the ICC prosecutor to interfere in the Philippine’s own investigation into the matter,” Guevarra said.
Reports indicate that at least 6,200 drug suspects have been killed in police operations from June 2016 until November 2021. Several human rights groups, however, said the actual death toll could be between 12,000 and 30,000.