International Criminal Court

After appeal denial, Marcos shuts door on ICC probe

Jairo Bolledo

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After appeal denial, Marcos shuts door on ICC probe

SIGNED. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. leads the signing of the new Agrarian Reform Emancipation Act at the Kalayaan Hall in Malacañang Palace on July 7, 2023.

Yummie Dingding/PPA/Pool

'Should the [Philippine] authorities in the future wish to raise other issues, it would be for the ICC Judges to decide whether they can be accepted or not,' ICC spokesperson Fadi El Abdallah tells Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – After the International Criminal Court (ICC) rejected the Philippine government’s appeal against the probe on drug war killings, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. shut the door on future dealings with the tribunal based in The Hague, Netherlands.

Basta tapos na lahat ng ating pag-uusap sa ICC. Kagaya ng sinasabi namin mula sa simula (All of our dealings with ICC have already ended. Like what we’ve said in the beginning), we will not cooperate with them in any way, or form. So, we continue to defend the sovereignty of the Philippines and continue to question the jurisdiction of the ICC in their investigations here in the Philippines,” Marcos said in an interview on Friday, July 21.

This was the latest remark from the incumbent president after the ICC appeals chamber moved to reject the Philippine government’s appeal against the resumption of probe into drug war killings. It was the Marcos’ government, through Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra, which filed the appeal, challenging the probe that centers in the killings under former president Rodrigo Duterte.

Around 27,000 people were killed under Duterte’s drug war led by the Philippine National Police. The ICC also probes the crimes of the so-called Davao Death Squad, which occurred when Duterte was still Davao City mayor.

Marcos, a Duterte ally, echoed Duterte’s rhetoric that challenged the ICC’s jurisdiction. (READ: After ICC’s latest move, Duterte says he won’t let ‘foreigners’ judge him)

“They are talking about Filipinos. Their alleged crimes are here in the Philippines, the victims are Filipino, bakit mapupunta sa (why would it be transferred to) The Hague? Kaya’t dito dapat (It should be here). That’s it. We have no appeals pending. We have no more actions being taken,” Marcos said. “So, I suppose that puts an end to our dealings with the ICC.”

Guevarra, whose office serves as the government’s primary counsel, gave the same remarks as Marcos on Thursday.

“I have discussed this matter personally with PBBM and we have agreed that our appeal to the ICC appeals chamber is the end of our engagement with the ICC,” Guevarra told reporters. “We just really waited for the decision.”

Marcos latest remark signaled that the Philippines will not really cooperate with the ICC. This was also the exact statement of Department of Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla, who said this week that the ICC is not welcome in the country.

Lawyer Kristina Conti, who helps the drug war victims’ families, said in a statement that the government’s non-cooperation showed “weakness, duplicity, and insult” to the drug war victims.

“We think that a complete disengagement with the ICC signifies on one hand, that the Marcos government is afraid of the ICC uncovering systematic, programmatic killings and on the other, that it is merely posturing for political convenience in the international arena,” Conti said.

Is this really the end?

On one hand, the Philippine government has no engagement with the ICC at present because it has no pending appeal. Although, the country might still be asked to send communications in relation to the ongoing probe.

The Philippines, on the other hand, can still raise concerns with the ICC.

“On the legal aspects, the Appeals Judgment is final on the points it has addressed. Should the authorities in the future wish to raise other issues, it would be for the ICC Judges to decide whether they can be accepted or not,” ICC spokesperson Fadi El Abdallah told Rappler in a message.

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In addition, the ICC needs the Philippines’ cooperation for the probe, and especially in the event a warrant would be issued. The ICC relies on the cooperation of countries, because when a warrant is issued, its execution will depend on the nations’ cooperation. –

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Jairo Bolledo

Jairo Bolledo is a multimedia reporter at Rappler covering justice, police, and crime.