Gov’t appeals ICC ruling on drug war probe
MANILA, Philippines — The government has asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) to reverse its earlier decision to proceed with an investigation into the killings committed under the Duterte administration’s antidrug war.
Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra, who was justice secretary during the Duterte administration, filed a notice of appeal on Feb. 3 and asked the court to reverse the Jan. 26 decision of the Pre-Trial Chamber (PTC) to allow Prosecutor Karim Khan to pursue the investigation into alleged crimes against humanity.
In the notice of appeal, Guevarra disputed the PTC’s conclusions that it has jurisdiction over the Philippines and that the steps taken by the government were not carried out to satisfy criminal justice.
Guevarra said they filed the notice with the Appeals Chamber and “this will be followed by the filing of our appeal brief before the end of this month.”
In the meantime, it asked that the PTC’s decision be suspended pending the final resolution of the appeal.
For the Philippine Coalition for the International Criminal Court, which represents the families of those killed in the drug war, said the appeal “douses cold water onto the ray of hope” from the PTC’s decision.
“This is another delaying tactic that counters the quest for justice of the families,” said Aurora Parong, who co-chairs the group.
“Where is the commitment to human rights which President Marcos repeatedly talks about in his diplomatic meetings? Where is the ‘real justice in real time’ that is repeatedly promised by Justice Secretary Jesus Remulla?” she asked.
Lawyer Kristina Conti, one of the listed counsel in the case filed before the ICC, argued that despite the government appeal, ICC investigators could proceed with the collection of testimonies and evidence, especially since the government raised only rehashed arguments.
“It would involve the same issues already passed upon… so the decision of the Appeals Chamber would lead to a crucial, critical conclusion to the merit of the arguments,” she said. “In court, unlike in the public arena, we cannot keep rehashing the same points over and over again, without weeding out the false, the incorrect, and the unreasonable,” she added.According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), the Philippine government has 21 days from the filing of the notice of appeal to submit its appeal brief.
The prosecutor then has 21 days from the notification of the appeal brief to file his response, said HRW researcher Carlos Conde.
—WITH A REPORT FROM TINA G. SANTOS
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