PH must cooperate with ICC with bid to stop drug war probe junked – Bayan
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government should cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC) now that the court has junked its appeal to stop the probe into drug war killings, the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) said in a statement on Tuesday.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. should stop invoking the principle of sovereignty as a means to avoid cooperation, Bayan said.
“It is time for Mr. Marcos and the Philippine government to stop invoking sovereignty every time those in power wish to escape accountability under our international treaty obligations, especially for gross human rights violations and crimes against humanity,” Bayan said.
“It is important for the world to hear in the upcoming Sona [State of the Nation Address] that the Philippines would adhere to its human rights obligations and not stonewall the ICC investigations,” Bayan said.
The ICC Appeals Chamber earlier denied the motion for reconsideration filed by the Philippine government to stop its investigation of former president Rodrigo Duterte’s controversial drug war.
Marcos has repeatedly stated that the ICC would only be welcome to continue the probe if the Philippines could show that its judicial system had collapsed or if a war would break out — both of which are not happening.
Last March 2023, Marcos said the Philippines would disengage from the ICC if it would reject its appeal to suspend the drug war probe.
Accountability to end impunity
ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro said that the government should cooperate with ICC since doing so would just hamper the delivery of justice.
“We have long been advocating for accountability and an end to the culture of impunity in our country. The ICC’s decision gives hope to the Filipino people, especially those who have been directly affected by the drug war,” Castro said.
“It is crucial that the government does not hinder the pursuit of justice. The truth must be revealed, and those responsible for these heinous crimes must be held accountable. We stand with the ICC in its pursuit of justice and its commitment to uphold human rights. The international community is watching, and the Filipino people deserve nothing less than truth, justice, and accountability.”
Crimes against humanity
During the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, several rights advocates assisted the relatives of drug war victims in filing the crimes against humanity complaint before the ICC.
Various groups said the government figure of 7,000 drug war killings during the Duterte administration was understated saying that the figure would be closer to 12,000 to 13,000
Duterte repeatedly said that there were no extrajudicial killings in his drug war. But recently, he agreed with Marcos’ statement that abuses had been committed in the drug war.
In 2021, the ICC suspended its probe after the Philippines said its judicial system had been working to resolve the cases of drug war killings.
However, the ICC went on with its probe, saying that it was not satisfied with the efforts of the Philippine government to prosecute the drug war killings.
Last March 13, the Philippine government asked the ICC Appeals Chamber to discontinue the drug war probe on the basis that it had no jurisdiction over the country.
In reply, the ICC said that the Philippine government failed to explain why there was no legal basis for stopping the probe.
Only two convictions
There were only two cases that police officers were convicted of killings related to the drug war — the case of 17-year-old Kian delos Santos and the case of 19-year-old Carl Angelo Arnaiz and 14-year-old Reynaldo “Kulot” de Guzman.
Delos Santos was killed in August 2017 despite not being the original target of a drug operation in Caloocan City. He was shot point-blank with CCTV footage showing him pleading for his life.
Two days before Delos Santos was killed, Arnaiz and de Guzman’s bodies were found in different areas – Arnaiz’s in a funeral in Caloocan City and De Guzman’s in a creek in Nueva Ecija.