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Monday, April 15, 2024

BI clueless on ICC presence in PH

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THE Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Friday said it has no information on the supposed presence in the Philippines of International Criminal Court (ICC) investigators to look into the country’s bloody anti-drugs war under the watch of former President Rodrigo Duterte.

“Sa ngayon, wala pa po kami nakukuhang information about it. Siguro hindi pa kami makabigay ng sagot dahil wala pa kami nakukuhang formal communication about anything about the ICC (As of now, we have not gathered any information about it. Maybe, we cannot give a reply yet because we have no formal information on anything about the ICC),”BI spokesperson Dana Sandoval said in an interview. 

The Department of Justice (DOJ said it was checking with the BI if ICC prosecutor Karim Khan or any official of the organization had entered the Philippines.

“We’re still verifying, although I would assume that the first name the Bureau of Immigration will look into is Prosecutor Kharim Khan’s name, and as of right now, we have no feedback if Prosecutor Kharim Khan indeed entered the country,” Justice Assistant Secretary Mico Clavano said.

He added however, that ICC officials or personnel could have entered the country without properly identifying themselves.

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“Of course, as representatives of the International Criminal Court, it would be in their best interest to let us know because the mechanisms by which they would be conducting their investigations, their inquiry here would be with the assistance, of course, of the government,” Clavano said.

“And for them to come in and to avoid detection, siyempre medyo ayaw natin yon dahil medyo parang pinapasukan tayo ng dayuhan na wala namang timbre (because it would look like foreigners are getting in without any  notification),”  Clavano said. 

He reiterated that the local justice system is working on the matter.

“Hindi naman natin kailangan tumakbo sa kahit sino mang tao or organisasyon or sa ICC dahil dito naman sa Pilipinas, kayang-kaya naman natin to (We need not go to any person or entity, or th ICC because we can handle this on our own). And I think it would be a testament also to not only the President, the [justice] secretary, but also ourselves no as Filipino people na kaya nating i-resolve yung ating sarili, di ba,” Clavano said.

The Office of the Solicitor General declared earlier that the Philippine government has no legal duty to cooperate in the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) investigation of the Duterte administration’s illegal drug war.

“As far as the government is concerned, it has maintained its position that the state has no legal duty to cooperate with the ICC investigator,” Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra said in an interview.

Guevarra made the statement following reports that investigators of the ICC have arrived in the country.

Guevarra said the ICC could investigate the drug war without coming to the Philippines.

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla earlier said that members of the ICC must make contact with the government if they are already in the country.

When asked whether the ICC probers may enter the country informally, Remulla reiterated that protocol must be established if their investigation will be used legally.

The Philippines, under then-President Rodrigo Duterte, withdrew from the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the ICC, in 2019 after the tribunal began a probe into the drug war, followed by a formal inquiry in September 2021.

In January 2023, the ICC authorized the reopening of the inquiry after it was suspended in November 2021.

Senator  Ronald Dela Rosa meanwhile again said that the ICC has no jurisdiction to investigate the Duterte administration’s bloody drug war. 

Dela Rosa was responding to a query asking if he had already been contacted by ICC prosecutors who are reportedly in the country for the said investigation. 

Being the Philippine National Police (PNP) chief when the drug war was carried out, Dela Rosa was among the respondents in the ICC probe along with former President Rodrigo Duterte. 

Dela Rosa said he remains “unconvinced” by the statement of lawyer Harry Roque that the ICC prosecutors already entered the  Philippines. 

“Well, if they are already here, there’s nothing we can do. But as far as I know, that is only one source of information and that should be validated and confirmed,” he said.  “So far, I just heard it from  Atty. Harry Roque, no other (person).”

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