President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Wednesday said the rule of law prevails in the Philippines and its criminal justice system is functioning fully.
In a video message during the plenary session of the Second Session for Summit for Democracy, Mr. Marcos said the Philippines has been committed to fighting impunity for atrocities despite the country’s withdrawal from the Rome Statute in 2019.
Mr. Marcos made the remark following his latest pronouncement that the Philippines is “disengaging” from any contact and communication with the International Criminal Court (ICC) after it rejected the country’s request to suspend its ongoing investigation into former President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war.
Also on Thursday, Senator Ronald dela Rosa—who led Duterte’s bloodywar on drugs as chief of the Philippine National Police—said candidate Marcos had promised him that the ICC would not touch a single strand of his hair—even though he was bald.
The senator said he took this not only as a personal promise but a commitment to the country that he will defend the Philippine sovereignty.
Senators associated with Duterte accused the ICC of bullying the Philippines.
Senator Robin Padilla on Thursday said he would join former President Duterte and Dela Rosa if they will be jailed by the ICC.
The former movie star was once convicted and sentenced to eight years in jail for illegal possession of firearms but was pardoned by President Fidel V. Ramos after four years. Duterte later gave Padilla a full pardon to endow him with full civil and political rights.
While the Philippines has its own justice system, Padilla said he finds it insulting that the ICC will investigate the country’s drug war, which could mean that “we are stupid.”
Meanwhile, Mr. Marcos said: “We continue to improve mechanisms such as the AO35 inter-agency committee to enhance accountability. The Philippines’ commitment to fight impunity for atrocity crimes is solid and unwavering, notwithstanding the withdrawal of the country from the Rome Statute.”
“The Philippines has a national legislation punishing heinous crimes.
We have vigorously exercised our jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute crimes, including those allegedly committed in the context of the anti-illegal drugs campaign,” he added.
In the Philippines’ fight against illegal drugs, he noted that the government continues focusing on strengthening state programs on rehabilitation, prevention, education, and assistance to drug victims and their families as well as ensuring transparency and accountability in law enforcement operations.
He said the government is also investing more to enhance the administration of justice “through the various institutions and mechanisms already in place to protect the right to life, liberty and security of the Filipino people” to achieve its objectives for people-centered growth and prosperity.
Mr. Marcos cited as an example the establishment of the Department ofMigrant Workers to protect and promote the rights of more than 10 million Filipino migrants.
He also said the nation’s justice reform agenda acknowledges that realjustice means the humane treatment of persons deprived of liberty and efficient prosecution of criminal cases.
President Marcos said the administration is pouring resources and energy into improving the processes in the investigation of cases and the witness protection program.
He also said the Philippines will continue being an active player bothbilaterally and globally in dialogues tackling various issues concerning democracy, human rights, and good governance, “as long as these engagements are constructive, based on facts, and respectful of Philippine sovereignty,” Mr. Marcos said.
He thanked US President Joe Biden and the US government for conveningthe Second Summit for Democracy, along with co-host countries Costa Rica, South Korea, The Netherlands, and Zambia.
The Filipino leader said the summit “affirms the solidarity of nations bound by values of democracy and sends a powerful message of our collective will to bring about the best of peoples and societies empowered by freedom.”
While the Philippines backed a democracy declaration issued by several countries, it disassociated itself from references to the ICC.
On March 29, the United States, the Philippines, and 71 other countries supported the joint statement issued at the 2023 Summit for Democracy in Washington DC reaffirming democracy as a means to advance peace, prosperity, equality, sustainable development, and security.
The declaration highlighted the need to strengthen democratic institutions while citing the “important role played by the ICC as a permanent and impartial tribunal complementary to national jurisdictions in advancing accountability for the most serious crimes under international law.”
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Thursday endorsed the declaration but distanced itself from the text referring to the ICC, saying the court has “failed the test of complementarity”.
“The Philippine government does not recognize the ICC’s jurisdiction and affirms that the Philippines has the jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute crimes, including those allegedly committed in the context of the country’s anti-illegal drugs campaign,” it said.