Many have had their eyes and ears up when The Hague-based International Criminal Court granted its prosecutor’s request to reopen the investigation into Manila’s war on drugs during the incumbency of President Rodrigo Duterte.
The tribunal said, after examining submitted materials from the Philippine government, the ICC prosecutor Karim Khan, and drug war victims, the collections of information “do not amount to tangible, concrete and progressive investigative steps in a way that would sufficiently mirror the Court’s investigation.”
We agree with Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla who laid down the law the Philippines has a functional justice system and described the decision of the ICC to resume its “drug war” probe an “irritant.”
Remulla also vowed to prevent the ICC from imposing upon the Philippines, which is a sovereign country.
In law, the sovereign is the one who exercises power without limitation and, as the English jurist William Blackstone said, the term sovereignty exercised by a sovereign power carries implications of autonomy and to have sovereign power is to be beyond the power of others to interfere.
Presidential legal counsel Juan Ponce Enrile himself has said the government will not allow any of its officials to be investigated or tried by the ICC whose jurisdiction he added he did not recognize since it has no sovereign power over the Philippines.
Remulla has given assurances the Philippines is “not closing the doors to dialogue” but stressed “we will not accept impositions on our country…we are doing what it takes to fix the system.”
“Remember they are talking about problems that cropped up 12 years ago. We were not even in this office yet and expect us within seven months to answer every question they have. Is that reasonable?” Remulla argued.
The International Criminal Court is not part of the United Nations but is governed by the Rome Statute, the first permanent, treaty-based, international criminal court established to help end impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community.
Interesting that dozens of countries are not ICC members, including China, India, Russia, and the United States. The court has angered non-members by launching probes into possible war crimes in Afghanistan, the Palestinian territories, and Ukraine.
Enrile also said ICC investigators must ask permission to enter the country, otherwise he would “cause their arrest.”
Earlier, Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra said the Philippines intends to appeal the resumption of the ICC’s inquiry into the country’s anti-illegal drugs campaign before the ICC Appeals Chamber.
We agree with Remulla when he reiterated the government’s position that the ICC can rightfully conduct proceedings only in states without a functioning government and justice system.
“We are doing what it takes to fix the system. We have a functional judicial system and I don’t see where they can come in unless they want to take over our legal system and take over our country. I don’t see that happening,” Remulla said.
He said the “unreasonable” decision by Karim Khan is not welcome in the Philippines and DOJ “will not stand for any of these antics that tend to question our sovereignty and our status as a sovereign country.”