Senator: ICC probe will earn Marcos respect from world leaders
MANILA, Philippines — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. can earn the respect of his peers and prove his adherence to international law by cooperating with the International Criminal Court (ICC), Sen. Risa Hontiveros said on Monday, even as Department of Justice (DOJ) and Philippine National Police officials urged the court to respect the country’s sovereignty and judicial system.
“As long [as] the government remains uncooperative, it will look evasive. The world will keep on wondering if it is hiding something,” Hontiveros told the Inquirer.
“After the president’s many trips [abroad], his administration can no longer use ‘sovereignty’ as an excuse to conceal the evidence. If it is truly his desire to gain the respect of the world, he should start here — the human rights issues right on our shores,” she said.
“Let him show that he respects international law, as he says he does,” Hontiveros added. “And what is the law without justice? This is his time to prove that, under his administration, as he has touted around the world, justice belongs to the people.”
The ICC last week announced the resumption of its own prosecutor’s investigation into the thousands of killings in the drug war during the term of Rodrigo Duterte as president and as Davao City mayor.
According to the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber, while it recognized the government’s efforts to probe the drug war killings, it was “not satisfied that the Philippines is undertaking relevant investigations, or is making a real or genuine effort to carry out such investigations and any subsequent criminal prosecutions….”
DOJ Assistant Secretary and spokesperson Mico Clavano, however, said that the government would not allow the ICC to conduct its own probe.
At the Laging Handa briefing, he said the ICC’s operations depended on a country’s consent or willingness to submit itself to an international investigation. “So, if there is no consent from our government, they can’t come here because it’s a compulsory process,” Clavano said, referring to investigation procedures.
He added that the ICC probe would entail serving subpoenas, summoning witnesses, and gathering evidence.
“If we don’t allow that, they (ICC) can’t fully function. That is the stance of our government—we have our process here and foreigners can’t be allowed to take over because [we] fought for our independence and sovereignty for so long and we have our own justice system,” Clavano said.
He said the country was already cooperating with the international community to address the alleged abuses in the drug war, adding that it had even invited Morris Tidball-Binz, United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, to examine the country’s investigation process.
In a separate press conference, PNP chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. also urged the ICC to respect the country’s sovereignty and the capacity of its judicial system.
“The PNP has always maintained that the Philippines has a robust, efficient, and functioning criminal justice system with active legal proceedings and remedies available to address any claim of human rights abuses in the government’s anti-illegal drug campaign,” he said.
To prove this, Azurin cited the “ongoing investigations on all drug-related deaths and cases of successful prosecution of some government personnel involved in related crimes.”
According to him, there are so far 52 cases filed against police officers over alleged irregularities in the conduct of drug operations since 2016, as part of the 300 case folders submitted by the PNP to the DOJ for investigation.
—WITH A REPORT FROM FRANCES MANGOSING
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