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Monday, February 26, 2024

Fait accompli

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President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has spoken.

This, amid inconsonant opinions and a stack of speculations on whether the government has allowed or will allow prosecutors from the Hague-based International Criminal Court to be in the country and investigate the drug war deaths during the Duterte administration from 2016 to 2022.

ICC is an independent international organization, and is not part of the United Nations system.

The ICC Appeals Chamber had previously denied the Philippine government’s appeal to stop the probe, saying the country failed to prove a legitimate investigation into the drug war killings and the prosecution of the perpetrators were being undertaken by Philippine authorities.

On Monday, former senator Antonio Trillanes IV claimed he had information that ICC probers arrived in the country last December, and that a warrant was expected to be issued soon against former President Rodrigo Duterte and other respondents in connection with the tribunal’s probe on the Philippines’ “war on drugs.”

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The former lawmaker, who stopped short of identifying his sources for his purportedly gathered information, said the ICC probers were able to conduct interviews with concerned individuals.

Also on Monday, Senator Ronald dela Rosa, apparently in reaction to Trillanes’ statement, said Malacañang should say directly if it indeed allowed the ICC investigators to enter the Philippines.

Dela Rosa, Duterte’s chief of the national police command, said: “What I am asking from this government is to be man enough to please tell us what’s the real score. That would be no problem. No hidden transaction.”

Tuesday, just 24 hours after Trillanes and Dela Rosa were quoted by media, the President said he considers the ICC as a threat to Philippine sovereignty.

In an ambush interview, Mr. Marcos reiterated: “Let me say this for the 100th time, I do not recognize the jurisdiction of ICC in the Philippines. I do not. I find, I consider it as a threat to our sovereignty.

“Therefore, the Philippine government will not lift a finger to help any investigation that the ICC conducts,” he added.

But he said the ICC probers could come and visit the Philippines as “ordinary people,” but he said the government would strictly monitor their actions, especially if they intend to talk to agencies.

“We will not help them. In fact, we are keeping an eye on them, making sure they do not come into contact with any agency of government, and if they are contacting agencies of government, regardless if it’s the police, local government, our officials should not respond to their questions. That is our answer.”

If the ICC people are indeed here, which has not been confirmed by the government or the ICC headquarters, the President’s words are clear: “We do not recognize your jurisdiction, therefore we will not assist in any way, shape, or form, in any investigation that the ICC is doing in the Philippines.”

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