The International Criminal Court (ICC) announced on January 26, 2023, that it will resume its investigations into possible “crimes against humanity” under ex-President Rodrigo Duterte as part of the so-called “war on drugs.” ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan will thus be able to continue the investigation, which has been suspended since November 2021.
The ICC investigation covers the period from November 2011 until March 19, 2019, when the Philippines left the ICC under former President Duterte. It will investigate the numerous extrajudicial executions that occurred during Duterte’s time as mayor in Davao and Philippine president in relation to his anti-drug campaign.
Human rights lawyers and relatives of the victims publicly appealed to all witnesses to testify against the main perpetrators. The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) and organization Rise Up for Life and for Rights called on President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to cooperate with the ICC for its investigation. This appeal for human rights protection was also supported by the Philippine Commission on Human Rights and opposition group in the Senate.
The Philippine government rejected the ICC decision. Former national police chief Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa even suspected a hidden “agenda” behind the ICC’s continued efforts to reopen the investigation. On January 27, 2023, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla announced that the government does not welcome the resumption of the ICC probe. He called it “insulting” and reiterated that the ICC has no jurisdiction over the Philippines.
The Philippine government announced on February 3, 2023, that it will file an appeal on the ICC decision by the end of the month. ICC Chief Prosecutor Khan then has 21 days to respond to the petition. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. had made it clear as early as September 2022 that he rules out cooperating with the ICC.
Duterte himself sent word through his former spokesman Harry Roque on January 27, 2023, that he would never cooperate with foreigners and the ICC, but “would humbly submit to the prosecution and judgement of any local court.”
Photo © Raffy Lerma