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MANILA, Philippines – Following the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) denial of the Philippine government’s appeal against the drug war probe, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla advised Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa on Wednesday, July 19, to avoid countries where “the ICC will be able to influence the judicial system.”
This was in response to a question during a press briefing on whether the government will protect Dela Rosa once a warrant was issued.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) chief added that he has the same advice to other people who may be involved in the ICC probe: “‘Wag kayo pupunta sa lugar na maaring makialam ang ICC. Dito, hindi sila puwedeng makialam talaga rito…They are citizens of the republic who also need our protection so we need to tell them.”
(Don’t go to countries where the ICC can intervene. Here in the Philippines, they cannot really do any interventions. They are citizens of the republic who also need our protection so we need to tell them.)
Remulla was referring to the cooperation of a member-country with the ICC, because when a warrant is issued, its execution will depend on their cooperation.
Since the Philippines already withdrew from the Rome Statute, it is no longer obliged to cooperate. However, when the subjects of a warrant travels to a member-state, they may be arrested and be turned over to The Hague, in the Netherlands.
On July 18, the ICC appeals chamber junked the Philippine government’s appeal, which challenged the resumption of the probe into drug war killings under former president Rodrigo Duterte. Three of the five judges decided to reject the appeal and said that the challenge had unclear details.
Although the individuals who are subject of the probe have yet to be disclosed by the ICC, the investigation centers on Duterte’s drug war, which killed around 27,000 people, as well as deaths attributed to the Davao Death Squad. The crimes occurred during Duterte’s time as president and as mayor of Davao City.
Dela Rosa, a police-turned-lawmaker, was considered the “architect” of Duterte’s drug war. He was the Philippine National Police chief when the former president launched his bloody war on drugs in 2016. Reacting to the ICC’s latest move, Dela Rosa said he was not bothered and not concerned.
The Philippine government, represented by the Office of the Solicitor General, also expressed disappointment over the ICC’s decision. In a statement released on Wednesday, the DOJ also aired the same sentiment.
The DOJ also said it would “ensure a fair and impartial investigation into any allegations of human rights violations or abuses.”
“We understand the importance of providing a platform for victims to be heard, and we assure everyone that their voices will be listened to and taken seriously,” the DOJ said in a statement. “Our goal is to provide justice and accountability while upholding the rule of law.”
The justice department also maintained that the country’s legal system is functioning well and it encouraged individuals with evidence and witnesses to come forward. – With reports from Reuters/ Rappler.com