ICC denial of PH bid to suspend ‘drug war’ probe has ‘no binding effect’ – Tolentino
MANILA, Philippines — The International Criminal Court’s (ICC) denial of the Philippine government’s request to suspend its probe into the previous administration’s war on drugs has “no binding effect,” Senator Francis Tolentino said Tuesday.
Tolentino, the chairperson of the Senate committee on justice and human rights, said the country’s plea before the ICC Appeals Chamber was just a “courteous assertion” of Philippine sovereignty.
“The Appeal made by the Philippines was a courteous assertion of our sovereignty; its denial has no binding effect. It will not clothe the ICC with jurisdiction, as there was none in the first place. ICC should recognize the fundamental pillar of the international legal order, which is sovereignty,” he said in a statement.
Last year, Tolentino expressed his “full support” to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s declaration that the Philippines will not rejoin the ICC.
In 2018, then President Rodrigo Duterte withdrew the Philippines from the Rome Statute, the treaty that created the ICC, saying there seemed to be a “concerted effort” between the United Nations special rapporteurs and the ICC special prosecutor to paint him as a “ruthless and heartless violator of human rights who allegedly caused thousands of extrajudicial killings.”
Three years later, the ICC launched a probe into Duterte’s bloody campaign against illegal drugs or “drug war.”
The ICC investigation was halted two months after the Philippine government’s request.
The probe, however, resumed in January this year as the ICC is “not satisfied that the Philippines is undertaking relevant investigations that would warrant a deferral of the Court’s investigations based on the complementarity principle.”
Former President Duterte and Senator Ronald dela Rosa are facing complaints of crimes against humanity in relation to alleged extrajudicial killings during the drug war.
Dela Rosa was Duterte’s chief of the Philippine National Police when the brutal anti-drug campaign was launched in July 2016.