International Criminal Court

‘Disengaging?’ PH gov’t to push through with ICC appeal

Jairo Bolledo

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‘Disengaging?’ PH gov’t to push through with ICC appeal

AVOIDING EVICTION. Gravediggers exhume the remain of the victims of the Duterte administration's war on drugs on December 8, 2021, after their five-years contracts with the cemetery had elapsed.

Angie de Silva/Rappler

Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra says he 'will discuss possible options' with President Marcos

MANILA, Philippines – Despite President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s remarks that the Philippines will start “disengaging” with the International Criminal Court (ICC), Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra said the country will retain its appeal pending before the court.

“I’ll discuss possible options with the president. Personally, though, since we have already filed the appeal, we are not going to lose anything further by waiting for its resolution,” Guevarra, the government’s primary legal counsel, said when asked if the Philippine government will withdraw its pending appeal in the ICC.

In a decision dated March 27, the ICC appeals chamber rejected the Philippine government’s petition to suspend the ongoing probe into the drug war killings under former president Rodrigo Duterte. The chamber noted the “absence of persuasive reasons in support of ordering suspensive effect” raised by the Marcos administration in its appeal brief.

As a response, Marcos said the recent decision of the ICC chamber “ends all our involvement with the ICC.” He added that the Philippine government was “disengaging” from any contact or communication with the international court.

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After appeal rejected, Marcos claims PH ‘disengaging’ from ICC

After appeal rejected, Marcos claims PH ‘disengaging’ from ICC

Even before, the Duterte government had always antagonized the ICC, and resorted to various rhetorical messaging to oppose the court. Under Marcos predecessor, the Philippines even ended its ties with the ICC.

But despite this, Article 129 of the Rome Statute has always been clear that all proceedings prior to the withdrawal of a country remain valid. The Philippines’ very own Supreme Court holds the same position and said the country is obliged to cooperate with the ICC.

The recent ICC developments came after the ICC pre-trial chamber gave a go signal on the resumption of the probe into drug war killings last January. Days later, the Philippines immediately notified the ICC that it will file an appeal against the authorization to resume the probe. In its formal appeal dated March 13, the Philippines, aside from appealing the authorization, also asked for the probe’s suspension.

‘Disengaging?’ PH gov’t to push through with ICC appeal
What happens next?

The ICC proceedings into the drug war killings in the Philippines will continue because the probe is still ongoing. This means, even if Marcos claimed the country will disengage, the Philippine government still has connection with the court because of the pending appeal.

In an interview with CNN Philippines on Tuesday, Guevarra said the decision on the appeal could take several months or years before it could be resolved. The solicitor general added that the Philippine government had run out of legal options because its request for the suspension of probe has already been denied. For the meantime, the Philippine government would have to wait for the resolution on the actual appeal.

Guevarra added that when the ICC starts to name or identify specific persons involved in the case, they can challenge the case before the court –

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Jairo Bolledo

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