Guevarra firm: PH not legally bound to cooperate with ICC | Inquirer News

Guevarra firm: PH not legally bound to cooperate with ICC


Sen. Sonny Angara (L) with Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra. | PHOTO: Official facebook pafe og Sonny Angara

The government has no legal duty to cooperate with prosecutors of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the investigation of alleged crimes against humanity during the Duterte administration’s bloody war on drugs, Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra reiterated on Tuesday.

He added that rejoining the tribunal was not something that the executive branch could decide on its own, despite President Marcos’ statement last week that the government was studying such an option.


“[T]he ICC can no longer exercise its jurisdiction after the effectivity of the Philippines’ withdrawal from [it] in 2019,” Guevarra told reporters.


‘Nonbinding expression’

The solicitor general, who served as Duterte’s justice secretary, stressed that the government’s refusal to cooperate with ICC prosecutors and the possibility of the country rejoining the ICC were two distinct issues.

“The House resolutions encouraging the government to cooperate [with the ICC investigation], if adopted, are a nonbinding expression of their sentiment only,” Guevarra said.

He was referring to recent moves in the chamber to entertain such measures in the wake of a feud between House leaders and former President Rodrigo Duterte and his daughter, Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte.

There are also separate calls to have the Philippines rejoin the ICC by setting aside Duterte’s March 2018 order withdrawing the country’s membership in the Rome Statute, the tribunal’s founding document. The withdrawal took effect in 2019.

Competing interests

On rejoining the ICC, Guevarra said that was a “policy decision that will involve both the executive and legislative departments.”

This matter needs “a very serious study” because many factors and competing interests need to be considered, he said.


On Nov. 24, the President suggested he was open to the possibility of rejoining the ICC, a reversal of his previous aversion to the idea.

“There is also [the] question: ‘Should we return under the fold of the ICC?’ So that’s again under study. So we’ll just keep looking at it and see what our options are,” Mr. Marcos said, fueling talk of a widening rift between him and the Vice President, his 2022 “Uniteam” running mate.

The Dutertes had tussled with the President’s cousin, Speaker Martin Romualdez, after House leaders realigned a combined P650 million in hard-to-audit confidential funds earmarked for the younger Duterte’s two offices for 2024.

A spokesperson for the Department of Justice (DOJ) echoed Guevarra’s sentiment, saying the ICC no longer enjoys jurisdiction over the Philippines after the 2019 withdrawal.

Speaking at the Bagong Pilipinas Ngayon news briefing, Assistant Secretary Jose Dominic Clavano IV reiterated Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla’s earlier statement that cooperation with the ICC needed “serious” study.

“The stance of the DOJ has not changed,” he said.

Open to policy change

But Clavano did not discount the possibility of the Philippines changing its view. “As of now, our stand is that the ICC has no jurisdiction although, of course, we will be open if ever we see any change in the policy,” he said.

On rejoining the ICC, Clavano said the matter was “too far off because we are still studying it.”

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“We don’t want to appear as ‘balimbing’ (two-faced). We have to be deliberate, we have to study it well so that our decisions will not affect our state,” he said. INQ

TAGS: International Criminall Court, Menardo Guevarra, PH ICC membership

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