International Criminal Court

Growing local support for ICC doesn’t convince Marcos to change stance

Jairo Bolledo

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Growing local support for ICC doesn’t convince Marcos to change stance

CHIEF EXECUTIVE. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. delivers a speech during the launching of the 2023 Mariano Marcos State University-Philippine Rice Research Institute rice paddy art in September 2023.

Presidential Communications Office

Separate surveys conducted in December 2023 by polling firms Social Weather Stations and OCTA reveal an increasing trend in favor of the ICC probe

The growing support for the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) probe into drug war killings in the Philippines has not changed President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s stance on the matter.

Growing local support for ICC doesn’t convince Marcos to change stance

Marcos reiterated his reservation about the probe, particularly on the issue of jurisdiction, when asked if there’s been any change in his position, given the current public clamor.

“It opens a Pandora’s box. It’s still those questions of jurisdiction and sovereignty. I haven’t yet seen a sufficient answer for it. Until then, I do not recognize their jurisdiction in the Philippines. I cannot, that seems to be the only logical conclusion that could come to from that situation,” Marcos told reporters on Tuesday, February 20.

Separate surveys conducted by polling firms Social Weather Stations (SWS) and OCTA revealed the increasing trend in favor of the ICC probe. The ICC investigation centers on the killings during former president Rodrigo Duterte’s time as Davao City mayor, and under his bloody drug war that took almost 30,000 lives, according to several human rights groups.

The SWS survey conducted in December 2023 showed that 25% of Filipinos “strongly approve” of the probe. This number grew from 20% in March 2023. In addition, from 25%, the number of Filipinos who “somewhat approve” of the investigation grew to 28%.

On whether the government should allow the probe, 26% of Filipinos “strongly approve” of the Marcos administration allowing the investigation. This number grew from 21% in March 2023.

OCTA poll

Meanwhile, the OCTA survey, also conducted in December 2023, showed that majority of Filipino adults, or 59%, are in favor of rejoining the ICC. The survey also showed that 55% of adult Filipinos are in favor of the government cooperating with the ICC.

When asked if there’s a possibility he would change his mind if more evidence surfaced, the President replied: “No. It’s not about the evidence. It’s about the jurisdiction of the ICC in the Philippines. They could produce as much evidence as they want. But they could not act upon it in the Philippines, that is the point.”

Marcos seemed tough with his decision on the ICC, but there were instances in the past where public demand changed his position. When there was a clamor against jeepney consolidation, Marcos extended the deadline for doing so from January 31 to April 30.

The same thing happened when Marcos’ pet project, the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF), was met with criticism. In October 2023, the President suspended the project’s implementation, citing a need for further study.

Indefinite stance

When talking about the ICC probe, Marcos always raises his concern about the court’s jurisdiction.

The Rome Statute, which established the ICC, is, however, clear: the ICC still has jurisdiction over the Philippines. Article 127 of the statute states that all proceedings prior to the withdrawal of a nation from the treaty remain valid. The Philippines’ own Supreme Court affirmed this principle and noted that the Philippines is still obliged to cooperate with the ICC.

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Despite Marcos’ concerns about jurisdiction, his administration actually still has an indefinite position on whether or not it would cooperate with the probe. There were pronouncements made by Marcos himself and members of his Cabinet that showed a bit of leniency towards the probe in 2022.

Then Marcos said in January that his government “will not lift a finger to help any investigation that the ICC conducts.” The President said this, given information that ICC investigators had already entered the Philippines, and after the Duterte camp made speculations about a forthcoming ICC arrest warrant.

Nevertheless, the ball is now in Marcos’ hands because his government can cooperate with the ICC, even without necessarily rejoining the international court. Lawyers of drug war victims dubbed this the low-hanging fruit that Marcos can easily pick. –

1 comment

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  1. ET

    I doubt President Marcos Jr. will immediately pick that easy-to-pick “low-hanging fruit.” His “indecisiveness” may be a ploy to persuade or force Duterte to the negotiating table with more advantageous terms. Or it could be that he is just slow in analyzing the situation and, hence, slow in his decision-making about this issue.

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Jairo Bolledo

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