PH return to ICC fold ‘under study’– Bongbong Marcos

PH return to ICC fold ‘under study’– Bongbong Marcos

By: - Reporter / @MRamosINQ
/ 05:30 AM November 25, 2023

FROM ‘WE’RE DONE’ TO ‘WE’LL SEE’ The President said calls pushing for the country’s renewed membership of the International Criminal Court are “just expressing or manifesting the sense of the House.” —PHOTO from ICC

FROM ‘WE’RE DONE’ TO ‘WE’LL SEE’ The President said calls pushing for the country’s renewed membership of the International Criminal Court are “just expressing or manifesting the sense of the House.” —PHOTO from ICC

After speaking firmly against them four months ago, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Friday said proposals for the country to rejoin the International Criminal Court (ICC)—a turnaround that potentially exposes his predecessor Rodrigo Duterte to an investigation into his bloody war on drugs—were now “under study.”

The President’s statement came at the end of a week that saw such calls by lawmakers, including administration allies, being amplified and gaining traction at the House of Representatives, and amid speculations of a widening rift between Mr. Marcos and Vice President Sara Duterte, his 2022 “Uniteam” running mate and daughter of the former President.


Asked to comment on the House resolutions pushing for renewed ICC membership now being tackled by two committees in the chamber, Marcos said: “That is not unusual. They are just expressing or manifesting the sense of the House that perhaps it’s time to allow or to cooperate with the ICC investigation.”


Earlier stand

“There is also [the] question: ‘Should we return under the fold of the ICC?’ So that’s again under study. So we’ll just keep looking at it and see what our options are,” he said in a brief interview with reporters after attending an event in Taguig City.

The Philippines withdrew from the international tribunal in 2019 after Duterte questioned its authority to investigate his campaign against illegal drugs in which thousands of people were killed.

On July 22, the President reiterated his predecessor’s policy of noncooperation particularly after the international court rejected the Philippine government’s appeal to stop the ICC prosecutor’s investigation of Duterte for alleged crimes against humanity. “That’s it. We have no appeals pending. We have no more actions being taken. So, I suppose that puts an end to our dealings with the ICC,” Mr. Marcos said then. “We’re done talking with the ICC. Like what we have been saying from the beginning, we will not cooperate with them in any way, shape, or form.”

In Friday’s interview, Mr. Marcos said the questions over jurisdiction and sovereignty were still “problems” for the Philippines.

“Now if we can solve these problems, then that would be something else, but those questions are fundamental,” Mr. Marcos said. “That’s really where the conflict is.”

“Because if you are talking about the jurisdiction of the ICC, especially since we have withdrawn from the Rome Statute [that created the court] a few years back, that brings into question whether or not this is actually possible,” he added.


Bato: ‘I’ll be ready’

But the President also stressed that the killings and alleged human rights abuses committed in the pursuit of the drug war were already being investigated by the Department of Justice, the National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine National Police.

Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, a former PNP chief and one of the officials also facing ICC investigation for being the enforcer of Duterte’s antinarcotics crackdown, said he would defer to the President’s decision on the matter, the latter being the chief architect of the country’s foreign policy.

“If the [proposal] is just under study, then it does not cause alarm to us,” Dela Rosa said. “[But] I should be ready for any eventuality because the political situation in the Philippines is very fluid. So I have to be ready,” Dela Rosa said.

‘Long overdue’

Human rights groups welcomed the President’s pronouncement, calling it “long overdue.”

“This should happen now,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay. “At the same time, accountability should be sought not only for the crimes against humanity of Duterte, et al. There needs to be accountability for the past and present administration.”

“Being a member of the ICC manifests our country’s commitment to accountability and justice for the most serious crimes of international concern,” said lawyer Ray Paolo Santiago, cochair and spokesperson of the Philippine Coalition for the ICC, an alliance formed in 2002.

No ‘special attention’

Also on Friday, the House majority leader, Zamboanga City Rep. Manuel Jose Dalipe, said the three resolutions calling for the country’s return to the ICC would undergo the normal legislative process.

There was “no instructions” from Speaker Martin Romualdez, a cousin of the President, to give “special attention” to the resolutions, said Dalipe, who chairs the committee on rules.

“[They] will be treated like all other House resolutions, but we have to respect the autonomy of the legislative process and the necessity for adherence to established procedures.”

While the House holds former President Rodrigo Duterte “in high esteem,” it “will not suppress any member of Congress advocating for ICC support in investigating his antidrug campaign,” he added.

Dalipe was referring to House Resolution No. 1393 filed by the Makabayan bloc; House Resolution No. 1477 filed by Manila Rep. Bienvenido Abante Jr. and 1-Rider Rep. Ramon Rodrigo Gutierrez; and House Resolution No. 1482 by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman.

Sara’s objection

The three measures were referred to the House panels on justice and human rights, which held its first hearing on the matter on Wednesday.

READ: Bongbong Marcos: Gov’t studying possible return to ICC

The chamber’s action provoked criticism from Vice President Sara Duterte, who in a statement on Thursday asked the House “not to insult and embarrass our courts” by letting ICC investigators into the country on a matter already being addressed by the Philippine justice system—an argument echoing that of the government during her father’s term and under the current administration.

The Vice President also said the House should respect President Marcos’ earlier stand that the Philippines was already done dealing with the ICC.

All about the truth

“2028 [national elections] is still far off. What we want to learn from the resolutions is the truth. This is not about a resolution being anti-Duterte,” said Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Arlene Brosas at an online press briefing.

ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro said minority members like herself were glad that the House panels were finally tackling the resolutions.

“If they would call it anti-Duterte, we don’t have a comment on that. This is about justice for the victims of extrajudicial killings, which we have been pushing for since the 18th Congress, during the term of the former President. So we are glad that initial hearings have begun,” she said.

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“If there’s any politics there, of course the resolution is biased for justice for our countrymen who were victims of extrajudicial killings during Duterte’s term,” Castro said. —With reports from  Dempsey Reyes and Julie Aurelio 

TAGS: Bongbong marcos, ICC, Philippines

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