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Friday, July 19, 2024

House tackles ICC measures

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Panel studies 3 bills asking Marcos to back probe on drug war

A joint panel in the House of Representatives on Wednesday began considering resolutions urging President Marcos to cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in its investigation of alleged crimes against humanity committed during President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody war on drugs.

The President has so far rejected calls to cooperate with the ICC, which would put his predecessor, the father of his vice president and his ally in the last campaign, in the crosshairs of the investigation.

The joint committees on justice and human rights are expected to consider two resolutions calling for cooperation with the ICC—House Resolution 1393 filed by the Makabayan bloc and HR 1477 filed by Manila Rep. Bienvenido Abate Jr. and 1-Rider party-list Rep. Ramon Rodrigo Gutierrez.

But during Wednesday’s meeting, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said he filed a third resolution that seeks to determine whether the ICC has jurisdiction over the country, even though Duterte withdrew from the ICC in March 2018.

“It is essential that we first establish and confirm the verity of the following factual and legal parameters with respect to the subject House resolutions,” Lagman told the committee.

“No less than the Supreme Court on July 22, 2021, categorically ruled that the ICC has jurisdiction over the commission of covered crimes filed against President Duterte and others […] Considering that the ICC prosecutor has jurisdiction to investigate former President Duterte and his co-respondents, pursuant to world order and the rule of law, the concerned agencies of the Philippine government must perforce cooperate with the ICC investigators,” he added.

In response, the House committees on justice, and on human rights agreed to defer deliberations on the subject and request the attendance of resource persons who can provide inputs to the committee discussions.

Abante, who filed HR 1477, said cooperation with the ICC was an opportunity to show that domestic processes work.

“I still trust the criminal justice system, so by cooperating with the ICC, we strengthen our commitment to transparency and accountability,” Abante, chairman of the committee on human rights, told ANC’s Headstart.

About two weeks earlier, the House approved a resolution in defense of the chamber against insinuations of corruption from former President Duterte.

In February, Duterte’s allies filed a resolution expressing an “unequivocal defense” of Duterte and the drug war, which law enforcement agencies acknowledge has killed thousands of suspects in anti-drug operations.

That resolution was signed by former President and current Pampanga Second District Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who was removed as a deputy speaker earlier this month amid talk of a rift in the ruling coalition.

On Duterte’s initiative, the Philippines left the ICC, a court of last resort for when national authorities cannot or are unwilling to prosecute crimes against humanity.

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said Tuesday that the proposal “needs serious study” and stressed that the Philippines is no longer part of the ICC.

Senator Imee Marcos opposed the resolutions calling for cooperation with the ICC, noting that her brother, President Marcos, has repeatedly said the court has no jurisdiction in the Philippines.

“The President said several times we will not submit to the ICC because we are an independent country with our own justice system,” Senator Marcos said.

Senator Ronald dela Rosa, who led the bloody war on drugs as Duterte’s police chief, said the resolutions would have no effect unless the President acts on them.

“These government agencies are taking orders from the President and not from Congress,” he said.

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