The Office of Solicitor General on Wednesday said the International Criminal Court (ICC) has yet to rule on the government’s request to stop its human rights investigation into former President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody war on drugs.
Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra said while ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan had opposed the government’s bid, the ICC pre-trial chamber had not ruled on the Philippine request to deny Khan’s motion to resume the investigation into alleged human rights abuses in Duterte’s war on drugs.
Guevarra, who served as secretary of the Department of Justice in the Duterte administration, pointed out that regardless of the ruling, the government will avail itself of all legal remedies “both domestic and international” while “vigorously” pursuing its own investigation of crimes committed as a result of the war on drugs.
Guevarra issued the statement after Khan said the Philippine government’s arguments against the resumption of the ICC probe have no merit.
The Marcos administration previously said the tribunal lacks jurisdiction, the alleged crimes are insufficiently grave to warrant further action, and the government has investigated and prosecuted the alleged crimes or is currently doing so.
Guevarra also said the OSG is studying if there is a need to respond to Khan’s remarks.
Last year, the ICC authorized a full investigation into Duterte’s drug war, saying it appeared to be an illegitimate and systematic attack on civilians.
In reaction to the probe, Duterte pulled the Philippines out of the ICC by withdrawing from the Rome Statute.
Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla, meanwhile, said there is no need for the Philippine government to respond to Khan’s statement.
Remulla said the Philippines is no longer a member of the ICC and that it has a functioning democracy.
“As far as we are concerned, we are not members of the ICC anymore and he (Khan) cannot have any compulsory process in our country if he wants to investigate what he wants to investigate,” he said.
“And we submitted all of these things to the ICC out of comity, out of the principle of comity. And nothing more, nothing less,” Remulla said.
Remulla also said they have been in office for only 88 days and that the ICC cannot expect them to have all the information ready overnight.
He added that some of the cases happened five or six years ago, and there was a lack of witnesses in these instances.
“If they want to put our people in jail, there has to be a reason for it and there has to be due process first. We have to observe the rights of the people who are accused of committing crimes,” he said.
Remulla also said that Khan is doing the ICC a great disservice.
Remulla also pointed out that the investigations by local authorities on the drug war, which claimed the lives of thousands of suspects, are ongoing.
“We’re continuing our investigations. We’re not stopping,” he said, even as he expressed hopes that there will be more witnesses to come forward.
“That’s what we need here. If there are no witnesses, how can the case proceed?” said Remulla, who will attend two human rights conventions in Geneva in October.
Senator Ronald dela Rosa, who led Duterte’s bloody war on drugs when he was still chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), said the ICC no longer had jurisdiction over the Philippines—even though the alleged crimes were committed when the country had not yet withdrawn from the organization.
Asked to react to the ICC probe, Dela Rosa quipped: “Ano sila, hilo? (Are they crazy?)”
He said the ICC was meddling in domestic affairs and said the ICC can do nothing if the Philippines won’t allow them to enter the country.