DOJ chief: PH will never be an outcast despite being detached from ICC
MANILA, Philippines — Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla said the Philippines will not be a pariah if it stands by its decision not to rejoin the International Criminal Court (ICC).
“The US, Russia and China are not members of the ICC, but they are not pariahs to other nations. It’s our choice not to join, hindi natin kailangan sumabay sa uso [We don’t need to go by the trend],” said Remulla.
“I think we are within our rights not to join,” he added.
The country withdrew from the ICC after its former prosecutor Fatou Bensouda started a preliminary examination on the alleged human-rights violations committed during the intensified war on drugs under the Duterte administration.
President Rodrigo Duterte has also barred ICC probers from entering the country to conduct its investigation.
Earlier, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. affirmed the decision of the Duterte administration to stay out of the ICC, drawing flak from human-rights advocates.
Remulla said the country’s judicial system is functioning well and they are conducting their own investigation when it comes to the extralegal killings.
Previous administrations have already put in place measures to address extra-judicial killings.
In 2007, then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo created a task force against political violence through Administrative Order (AO) 181, followed by AO 211 that taps various agencies to hasten the investigation and prosecution of cases as well as help the victims.
This measures were followed by AO 35, under then-President Benigno Aquino III that created the Inter-Agency Committee (IAC) against extralegal killings, disappearances and other human-rights violations.
Since then, the DOJ said authorities tried to build up cases for 295 extralegal killings but encountered difficulties due to lack of witnesses.
Still, Justice Undersecretary Jesse Hermogenes Andres said 18 police and military personnel have been convicted for murder and sentenced to life imprisonment while 17 other civilians have been convicted and punished by up to 40 years of imprisonment.
“These occurrences therefore do not happen unabated and ignored as the government had been, is and continues to be present and in control. We have proven that through the whole-of- government approach, the State is capable of curbing violence and extralegal killings, and exacting justice from the perpetrators. But the effort cannot be left to the government alone. The multi-sectoral approach is more appropriate so that communities may be better protected from violence,” Remulla said.
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