The ICC once again

The ICC once again

Inside the ICC (Case Western Reserve University courtesy)

The President of the Republic is right on track.

The 64-year-old leader has made it clear, in an interview with reporters the other day, that the Philippines “has no intention” of rejoining The Hague, Netherlands-based International Criminal Court that is pushing to pursue an investigation into the previous administration’s bloody “War on Drugs.”

The statement came after Marcos met with top legal executives – they included Presidential Legal Counsel Juan Ponce Enrile, Solicitor General Medardo Guevarra, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla, Legal Counsel Harry Roque, Executive Secretary Vic Rodriguez, Foreign Secretary Enrique Manalo – to discuss the ICC situation.

However, Marcos clarified that he just gave orders to look into the ICC situation so the country would know how to respond.

Reports have said the ICC wants to continue the investigation of the Duterte administration’s war on illegal drugs. But we find that ridiculous since the Philippines has a functioning criminal justice system and the government, through various agencies, has an investigation going on here.

So what’s their beef really?

A quick look at the timeline. Then President Rodrigo Duterte, whose six-year term ended on June 30, 2022, pulled out the Philippines from its ratification of the Rome Statute after the ICC declared it wanted to investigate the allegations of crimes against humanity in the Philippines.

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.

The Philippines withdrew from the Court in March 2018, which then took effect in Mach 2019. While Manila is no longer a part of the ICC, government critics say the international body is still allowed to conduct investigations in the Philippines.

But we take the side of Philippine officials who have maintained that the country has its own functioning justice system and that the country promised to conduct its own investigation, although the ICC was left unsatisfied and is eager to conduct its own investigation.

The country has until September 8 to provide the ICC response to ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan’s request to pursue the investigation.

But it gets our goat that the ICC through Khan is packed with judicial excitement to look into allegations of crimes against humanity in the Philippines but is bereft with consonant enthusiasm against powers that are outside the ICC.

Khan’s request comes a year after his predecessor, former prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, sought judicial authority for a full investigation of the rights situation in the Philippines.

We will give it to President Marcos who maintained his administration would have to look into the case first, without giving other details of his meeting with other officials last week.

Indeed the ICC is a very different kind of court and the Marcos government is on the beam to study the procedures first so that the government, through the agencies involved in investigations, not from the push by the ICC by the way, so that, as the President said “we will do things correctly and we do not misinterpret the things that we are doing.”

We understand the President’s critics are dismayed by his statement. One of them even said the ICC would act as a court of last resort – but what kind of court is that if we have a functioning judicial system?

Alleged victims of human rights violations can continue their cry for justice.

That does not despoil the President’s statement when he was elected on putting “the importance of ensuring high-level of accountability in terms of human rights [violations].”

“Relatives’ support groups continue to engage the Court towards pursuing the investigation of willful killings under the war on drugs,” iDEFEND said in a statement.

The victims and their legal representatives have until September 22 to submit the ICC additional reports.

In January, he said he will allow members of the ICC to go to the country, but only as tourists and not as investigators. (ai/mtvn)

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