The Philippine government filed an appeal with the International Criminal Court (ICC) against the reopening of the ICC investigation into alleged crimes against humanity on March 13, 2023. In its appeal brief, the government argues that the ICC probe would “lack legal foundation” and “encroach on the sovereignty of the Republic of the Philippines.”
In January 2023, the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber allowed Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan to investigate alleged crimes against humanity in relation to the so-called “war on drugs” under ex-president and ex-mayor of Davao, Rodrigo Duterte. President Ferdinand Marcos already described this decision as not a “legitimate judgement.”
At the end of February 2023, the ICC extended the deadline to appeal the decision. President Marcos already stressed on 18 February 2023 that as long as those “questions of jurisdiction and the effects on the sovereignty of the republic are [not] sufficiently answered,” he could not envision a cooperation with the ICC.
The Philippine government also states in its appeal brief that the ICC no longer has jurisdiction over the Philippines since it withdrew from the ICC on 19 March 2019. However, Carlos Conde of Human Rights Watch pointed out that the ICC retained its authority to investigate human rights violations in the “war on drugs.” This is because the Philippines was a party to the ICC’s Rome Statute between 2011 and 2019.
Moreover, 19 congressmen filed a resolution in the House of Representatives on 16 February 2023 promising R. Duterte “unequivocal defense.” The resolution was led, among others, by ex-president and current deputy government spokesperson Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Congressman Johnny Pimentel defended the resolution by claiming that there was no clear evidence linking Duterte to the extrajudicial killings. On February 20 the Senate also filed under Senator Jinggoy Estrada’s leadership a resolution to protect Duterte regarding his involvement in the killings in the “war on drugs.”
Human rights lawyers Neri Colmenares and Kristina Conti said the resolutions reflect the country’s continued impunity and would prevent a fair, comprehensive, and objective investigation. The human rights group Karapatan called the resolutions a “grave insult” to victims of the “war on drugs.” The network In Defence of Human Rights and Dignity (iDEFEND) called on the ICC to take the resolution as a sign to reject the government’s appeal. The youth organization Anakbayan accused Marcos of double standards. Senate deputy minority opposition leader, Risa Hontiveros, underlined once again that the ICC proposal would grant justice to the victims of the “war on drugs.”
Photo © Raffy Lerma