SolGen clarifies PH bid for probe suspension effectively still pending
Former President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday cursed the International Criminal Court (ICC) for seeking to investigate his bloody war on drugs, and was unapologetic for the thousands of deaths it caused.
At a national prosecutors convention in Davao City, Duterte called the ICC “sons of whores” and said he fought the drug war the same way he fought criminality in his hometown when he was a mayor.
He said he was ready to face the consequences and even “rot in prison” for his actions.
Meanwhile, Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra said he would meet President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to consider other options available to the government, after the ICC denied its plea to suspend its investigation into Duterte’s drug war.
Earlier, the President said the ICC decision signaled the Philippines’ disengagement from any dealings with the body.
“We don’t have a next move,” the President said. “That is the extent of our involvement with the ICC. That ends all our involvement with the ICC since we can no longer file another appeal.”
But Guevarra, who was Duterte’s Justice secretary, said he prefers that the government wait for the ICC-Appeals Chamber to finally resolve its March 13 appeal.
“Personally, though, since we have already filed the appeal, we are not going to lose anything further by waiting for its resolution,” Guevarra said in an interview.
Guevarra said he would explain to the President. that the March 13 appeal of the government is still pending despite the ICC-Appeals Chambers’ denial of its request to halt the implementation of the Jan. 26 decision pending the final resolution on the merits of its appeal.
“I am sending a memo today for the President to explain to him the status of our appeal with the ICC Appeals Chamber. I’ll have to clarify with him that the appeal itself is still pending, it has not been denied, it has not been dismissed,” Guevarra told the ABS-CBN news channel.
He said the President may have gotten the impression that the main appeal was already rejected with the March 27 ruling considering that the ICC did not formally notify the government in advance of its decision.
The Philippine government filed last Feb. 6 a notice of appeal before the ICC-Appeals Chamber requesting that the implementation of the Jan. 26 decision be suspended pending the final resolution of its appeal.
Guevarra argued that the activities of ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan in relation to his investigation into the country’s situation “would lack any legal foundation and encroach” on the country’s sovereignty.
Also on Wednesday, Senator Francis Tolentino said he plans to invite ICC officials to a Senate hearing which intends to defend Duterte.
Senator Risa Hontiveros, on the other hand, said President Marcos would embarrass the Philippines on the international stage if he acts on his decision to disengage from the ICC.
She warned that this will only isolate the Philippines at a time when countries have been trying to forge alliances.
She said it was in the best interest of Filipinos to return to the Rome Statute which established the ICC.
Under fire for human rights abuses in his war on drugs, Duterte had the Philippines pull out of the Rome Statute in 2018.
Hontiveros also chided President Marcos for protecting an ally, when he should be protecting the Filipino people.
She also slammed the administration for failing to serve justice to the victims of the drug war.
“I am not aware of any attempt the administration has made to investigate the murders during the drug war,” she said,
“Will the President yet again, as they did with many Martial Law victim-survivors, leave the families of the victims empty handed?” she said.
She noted that only three cases of at least 6,000 drug-related killings in the past seven years have been resolved.
“They say our justice system is capable, but they have not exerted any aggressive effort to prove [this is] so,” she said.
“Where is the integrity of the President’s word? Did the President not fly around the world, even to the United Nations, to call for unity and cooperation in the international community? Did he not promise commitment to human rights and justice?” she said.