Manila Mayor Isko Moreno said he would support the Philippines' return to the International Criminal Court (ICC) if the move would "give a good impression to the world."
"If we have to, as a matter of giving a good impression to the world. Because we need cooperation, we need the world, we cannot just live on our own as a country.... We should continue honoring agreements. We should create certainty in our policy, yes, why not?" he said in a Rappler Talk Newsmaker interview on Tuesday, September 21.
The Philippines' withdrawal from the ICC took effect in March 2019, a year after President Rodrigo Duterte declared that the country's membership to the court was never valid.
But Duterte's move has been slammed as self-serving since over a month before, the ICC announced it started its "preliminary examination" of the complaint filed against his controversial war on drugs.
Things have moved quickly since then. Just last September 15, the ICC's pre-trial chamber announced it had opened a formal investigation into the drug war and Davao City extrajudicial killings.
But Moreno did not categorically answer when asked if he would cooperate in the ICC chamber's probe, specifically in the event that the body would issue arrest warrants covering Duterte and other drug war officials.
Instead he said, "Definitely, I will not lift a finger [for] any John Does and Mary who happen to be accused of such neglect or crimes or whatever it is, no."
Asked if he would provide the ICC with drug war documents to aid in their investigation, he said he would if they were public.
"Kung nandiyadiyan? Eh di bakit ba hindi? Public documents 'yan. Paano natin mapapaniwala ang kapitbahay natin kung tayo 'yung nagkukubli ng mga bagay-bagay?" he said.
(If it's there, why not? Those are public documents. How would we convince our neighbors to trust us if we hide things?)
"Hindi natin ma-wi-win 'yung ating kanegosyo sa abroad, mga kapitbahay sa Asya (We won't win over investors from abroad, from our Asian neighbors). We have to get back that kind of credibility as a nation," he continued.
The Manila local chief emphasized that the rule of law would be observed "whether you're a former president, you're an ordinary person."
Thousands of drug war documents are currently in the custody of the Department of Justice and police. They have not yet decided whether to release them to the Commission on Human Rights, concerned groups, or to the public, and are supposedly awaiting instructions from Duterte.
The lack of access to these documents has made it difficult for victims' families to pursue cases against allegedly abusive cops.
Will Moreno make these documents available and help the families attain justice?
"Justice will be served. Rule of law will be observed, and we're going to be certain about it," he told Rappler.
With regard to opening up an investigation into alleged abuses during Duterte's drug war if he wins the presidency, Moreno said it would not be his priority but that if cases are filed, he would make sure nothing stands in their way.
"There's so many problems in this nation. Let the natural course of law be applied to them," said the presidential hopeful. – Rappler.com
Here are more stories from Rappler's interview with Manila Mayor Isko Moreno:
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at email@example.com.