Congress blocs push cooperation with ICC | Inquirer News

Congress blocs push cooperation with ICC

Protester holding sign says: “Justice for all the victims of Tokhang.” STORY: Congress blocs push cooperation with ICC

INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines – Opposition lawmakers, both in the Senate and the House, urged President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in investigating the killings of nearly 8,000 people in the war against drugs of the Duterte administration.

“Let us cooperate as we are a responsible member of the world community of nations,” Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III said after the ICC granted its prosecutor’s request to resume the investigation of the Philippines’ war on drugs.

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Pimentel said there was no reason to refuse cooperation because the ICC probe was essentially just a preliminary investigation and ICC probers may even conclude that there was no evidence to prosecute former Presient Rodrigo Duterte for crimes against humanity.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros also urged the President to adhere to international law and reconsider rejoining the Rome Statute that created the ICC.

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‘Impartial body’

“The ICC is filling a long-standing vacuum in the investigation,” she said. “Justice requires that an impartial body investigate killings connected to the so-called war on drugs.”

The dean of the opposition in the House of Representatives, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, agreed.

“The rule of law is not limited to parochial confines. It must conform to the world order,” Lagman said.

He added that the Philippines cannot invoke the principle of complementarity in objecting to the ICC’s investigation because the Department of Justice (DOJ) has not even investigated Duterte nor resolved the 56 cases where the DOJ found probable cause for prosecution.

The 56 cases were among almost 8,000 killings that the Philippine National Police acknowledged to have occurred during Duterte’s antidrug war.

In 2019, the PNP announced that 5,526 suspects were killed in the antidrug campaign, dubbed Operation “Double-Barrel” and, later, “Tokhang.”

7,987 deaths

In November 2020, then PNP chief Gen. Camilo Cascolan reported, as an accomplishment, that deaths from antidrug operations had climbed to 7,987.

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Of the 56 cases where the DOJ found probable cause, government lawyers have only successfully prosecuted two cases involving three murders, those of Kian delos Santos, Carl Angelo Arnaiz and Reynaldo de Guzman—all teenagers.

For House Assistant Minority Leader Rep. Arlene Brosas, “the ICC has every reason to resume its investigation with the overwhelming number of evidence and statements from the victims’ families.”

“We call on the Philippine National Police to defer its move to revamp and push involved PNP officers to retire. They must testify in the ICC probe and be held accountable,” Brosas said in a statement.

RELATED STORIES

ICC resumes full-blown probe of Duterte drug war

CHR: ICC probe perfectly timed for PH gov’t to uphold human rights obligations

DFA ready to face ICC probe into war on drugs

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