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MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government, represented by Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra, has asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) to suspend its decision to resume its probe into the drug war killings in the Philippines under former president Rodrigo Duterte.
In a petition dated February 3, the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., appealed: “The Philippine government thus hereby requests that the implementation of the PTC I Decision be suspended pending final resolution of this Appeal.”
As Solicitor General, Guevarra serves as the government’s primary legal counsel.
The request is anchored on the government’s notice of appeal against the recent ICC decision. Guevarra added that the petition is directed against the whole decision.
“Pursuant to Article 18(4), Article 82(1)(a) of the Statute, Rule 154(1) of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, and Regulation 64(1) of the Regulations of the Court, the Philippine Government, in Situation in the Republic of the Philippines, ICC-01/21, hereby gives notice of appeal against the PTC I Decision dated 26 January 2023,”
In a message to reporters, Guevarra confirmed the filing of the notice of the appeal, adding they will file another appeal brief by the end of February.
“We filed a notice of appeal with the appeals chamber of the ICC last feb 3, challenging the entire decision of the pre-trial chamber authorizing the resumption of investigation into the philippine situation. This will be followed by the filing of our appeal brief before the end of this month,” Guevarra said.
On January 26, the ICC’s pre-trial chamber authorized the resumption of the probe into the killings. These include the deaths related to the Davao Death Squad and the bloody drug war – both under Duterte.
When the ICC published its latest move, Guevarra immediately said that the Marcos government would appeal the decision to the ICC’s appeals chamber.
In making the appeal, the Philippine government asked the ICC to accept its request to suspend the proceedings in accordance with the Article 18( 4), Article 82(1)(a) of the Rome Statute, Rule 154(1) of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, and the Regulation 64(1) of the Regulations of the Court.
Since the motion only contains the notice of the appeal and its initial, the Philippine government can still raise more arguments in its next appeals and/or communication to the ICC. With the appeal to suspend, the government wants to stop the probe at the warrants stage, where ICC Prosecutor Khan will look for evidence and potentially issue either summons or warrants.
What happens next?
According to rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW), the Philippine government has 21 days to file the appeal brief before the court. After that, Khan will have 21 days, for his part, to file his response on the petition.
“In terms of the timing for the appeals decision, according to the Chambers Practice Manual, the appeals chamber ‘shall render its judgments within four months from the date of the filing of the response to the appeal brief,’ the HRW explained.
“Usually, these proceedings are just in writing but, if the appeals chamber decides to have a hearing, then they need to issue their decision [within] four months of that hearing.”
Aurora Parong, co-chairperson of the Philippine Coalition for the International Criminal Court, called the Philippine government’s latest move as “another delaying tactic.”
“The appeal to the ICC of Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra, in behalf of the Philippine government, to reverse the ICC Pre Trial Chamber I’s decision to proceed with the investigation on the Philippine situation is another delaying tactic that counters the quest for justice of the families of victims of extrajudicial killings due to the violent ‘war on drugs,’” Parong said in a statement.
Parong added: “The Philippine government’s appeal at the ICC doused cold water to the ray of hope for justice at the international court among the families of the tens of thousands killed in the War on Drugs. Where is the commitment to human rights which President Marcos Jr. repeatedly talks about in his diplomatic meetings? Where is “real justice in real time” that is repeatedly announced by Justice Secretary Remulla?” – Rappler.com