Stay vigilant! Senator urges monitoring ICC probe despite PH ‘full disengagement’
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Francis Tolentino on Friday urged the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to monitor the International Criminal Court’s probe into the country’s bloody drug war despite the government’s move to disengage with the tribunal completely.
Tolentino, who heads the Senate justice and human rights panel, said this after Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra on Thursday revealed that Marcos had already agreed with the Philippines’ “full disengagement” from The Hague-based court.
“Disengagement would really mean that, formally, we will not cooperate, but they (Marcos administration) should be still monitoring what would be happening within the premises of the ICC,” Tolentino said over CNN Philippines’ The Source.
The ICC Appeals Chamber on Tuesday junked the Philippine government’s plea to stop the tribunal’s investigation into the drug war-related killing during the Duterte administration and his stint as Davao City mayor.
The denial allows the ICC to continue investigating the alleged crimes against humanity committed under the Duterte administration.
Should the investigation proceed, Tolentino said, “It should be wise for the Solicitor General’s Office to have a listening [ear] and to monitor what is happening because our disengagement would not mean a total lack of communication.”
“We should be aware of what is going on,” he added.
Tolentino again pointed out that the latest ICC ruling was a “split decision,” considering two of the five judges had sided with the Philippine government’s jurisdiction argument.
“There is still a chance, even if a warrant of arrest is issued, that it can be quashed and set aside by the Pre-Trial Chamber,” he said.
The lawmaker cited the dissenting opinion of Presiding Judge Marc Perrin de Brichambaut of France and Judge Gocha Lordkipanidze of Georgia, which, he said, holds more weight.
The judges argued that Article 127 of the Rome Statute could not be invoked in the Philippines’ situation since the country withdrew from the international treaty in 2018.
The Philippines’ withdrawal from the Rome Statute took effect in 2019, but the ICC only allowed the formal investigation into Duterte’s drug war two years later, or in September 2021.