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Saturday, February 24, 2024

SolGen: PH can’t appeal ICC ruling on drug probe

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The Philippines has no more available appeal in case the International Criminal Court decides on Tuesday to deny Manila’s plea to stop the ICC prosecutor’s investigation of the killings arising from President Rodrigo Duterte’s war against illegal drugs.

“In case our appeal is denied, the ICC prosecutor will be authorized to resume his investigation into the Philippine situation. There is no further appeal available to the Philippine government,” Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra said in a text message to Manila Standard on Sunday.

“Depending on the evidence he may able to gather, the ICC prosecutor may seek the issuance of summonses or warrants of arrest against certain individuals,” Guevarra added.

As a judicial institution, the ICC does not have its own police force or enforcement body.

On its website, the ICC said it “relies on the cooperation of countries worldwide for support, particularly for making arrests, transferring arrested persons to the ICC detention center in The Hague, freezing suspects’ assets, and enforcing sentences.”

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Thus far, there have been 31 cases before the ICC, and ICC judges have issued 40 arrest warrants, including one against Russian President Vladimir Putin in March for his part in the war in Ukraine.

With the cooperation of member-states, 21 people have been detained in the ICC detention center while 16 remained at large. Charges have been dropped against five people due to their deaths, the ICC said.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. earlier maintained that the government will not cooperate with the international body’s investigation.

“We cannot cooperate with the ICC considering the very seriousquestions about their jurisdiction and about what we consider to be interference and practically attacks on the sovereignty of the republic,” Mr. Marcos said in March.

The ICC Appeals Chamber is expected to make its decision on July 18 on the government’s plea against the resumption of the probe on the killings linked to the drug war.

The Solicitor General said persons “who may be indicted will have to engage their own defense counsel.”

He said the Office of the Solicitor General “only represents the state.”

Nonetheless, the chief state lawyer assured the public and the international community that the Philippine government will continue its own investigation and prosecution of individuals involved in so-called extra-judicial killings during the campaign against illegal drugs by the previous administration.

“Regardless of the outcome of our appeal, the Philippine government will continue to focus on its own investigation and prosecution of alleged abuses in connection with the war on drugs,” Guevarra said.

Earlier, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla downplayed the impact of the ICC upcoming decision.

“Well, they can decide in the Hague where the ICC is. But that does not affect us here. They cannot enforce anything that they want in our country because we are not members of the ICC,” Remulla said on Friday.

“We’re just trying to work with them in the spirit of comity. But if things happen as they do—if they will be adverse against us, so be it. But we are not members of the ICC,” the Justice Secretary said.

Former President Rodrigo Duterte pulled the Philippines out of the Hague-based tribunal in 2019 after it began a preliminary probe into his drug war, followed by the launch of a formal inquiry later that year.

Duterte has since continuously dismissed the ICC investigation.

Under the Duterte administration’s controversial drug war, at least6,200 suspects were killed in police operations based on government records.

But human rights groups claimed the actual death toll could be anywhere from 12,000 to 30,000.

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