BBM says Phl won’t rejoin ICC

‘If we respond, what will our answer be? Or it’s also possible that we will ignore it since we’re not under their jurisdiction’

August 2, 2022

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. announced on Monday that the Philippines will not rejoin the International Criminal Court (ICC) amid the tribunal’s continuing investigation into the six-year war on drugs of the administration of former President Rodrigo Duterte.

In a chance interview with reporters at the Pasig Sports Center, Marcos declared that “the Philippines has no intention of rejoining the ICC.”

The decision, he said, was arrived at following his recent meeting with chief presidential legal counsel Juan Ponce Enrile, Executive Secretary Vic Rodriguez, Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla, Foreign Secretary Enrique Manalo, and lawyer Harry Roque who served as Duterte’s spokesperson.

“We held a meeting because of the talk that the investigation will continue. But as we maintain, we have our own investigation and it’s continuing, so why have a different one?” he asked.

The Chief Executive said he asked his legal team how the Philippine government will respond to the ICC’s invitation to provide observations on the reopening of the investigation into alleged crimes against humanity committed during the drug war.

“The ICC is a very different kind of court, so I told them to study the procedures first so we can make the right step,” Marcos said.

“If we respond, what will our answer be? Or it’s also possible that we will ignore it since we’re not under their jurisdiction.”

On 14 July, the ICC Judges Péter Kovács, Reine Adélaïde Sophie Alapini-Gansou, and María del Socorro Flores Liera requested the country to submit its additional observations until 8 September.

On the other hand, ICC gave Khan until 22 September to relay “factual arguments” from the Philippine government that it was already investigating or had investigated the alleged “criminal acts” that might be under ICC jurisdiction as stated in the Rome Statute.

In March 2019, the Philippine government officially withdrew from the ICC after the Hague-based court launched a preliminary examination of the Duterte administration’s campaign against illegal drugs.

Remulla earlier confirmed that Marcos called for a meeting to discuss the country’s position on the ICC probe, but did not disclose what was tackled, saying that it would be proper if the President would be the one to do so.

The Justice chief was firm that ICC lacks jurisdiction to conduct a probe into the previous administration’s anti-narcotics drive.

He added that the country has a functioning judicial system, thus the ICC no longer needs to conduct a separate investigation.

“It’s not perfect but it’s functioning, we are not a banana republic, so why are we, why should they want to go to the country?” Remulla said in a chance interview Thursday during an event sponsored by the Rotary Club of Manila at Conrad Manila Hotel in Pasay City.

“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,” he added.

Last December, the ICC announced that it was suspending its investigation into the alleged atrocities committed during the campaign against illegal drugs to assess a deferral letter request from the Philippine Ambassador to The Netherlands.

Prosecutor Karim Khan has asked the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber to authorize the resumption of their investigation into the Philippines’ war on drugs that allegedly resulted in thousands of unnecessary deaths.

A panel led by the DoJ, reviewed the 5,655 anti-drug operations that resulted in deaths to determine whether to file charges against the police officers involved. Remulla said the review is still ongoing.

As of 31 May, a total of 6,252 drug suspects were killed in legitimate anti-drug operations, according to government statistics.

The ICC’s pre-trial chamber also said that while it recognizes the Philippines government’s duty to fight drug smuggling and addiction, the “so-called ‘war on drugs’ campaign cannot be seen as a legitimate law enforcement operation and the killings neither as legitimate nor as mere excesses in an otherwise legitimate operation.”

For Remulla, however, there is no “pattern of extrajudicial killings” during the implementation of the anti-drug campaign.

‘Don’t block ICC probe’

Senator Risa Hontiveros expressed hope that Marcos would allow the ICC to continue its investigation on the anti-drug war campaign of Duterte.

“I hope he will not undermine or block investigations of acts or violations that took place before the Philippines withdrew from the ICC,” Hontiveros said.

“Their mandate is to investigate, that is why they should not be block to their job. If they have nothing to hide, nobody should not be scared in this investigation,” she added.

The lady lawmaker from the two-member minority block acknowledged that the chief executive has the rights whether he would like to join or not in an international body.

However, she noted that part of the president’s duty is to act on “state sponsored impunity.”

“Why is there hesitation? It is the prerogative of the president, though it is regrettable as the Rome Statute is the collective commitment of the community of nations against state sponsored impunity,” she said.

JOM GARNER


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