International Criminal Court

Marcos says Philippines’ return to ICC ‘under study’

Jairo Bolledo

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Marcos says Philippines’ return to ICC ‘under study’

CHIEF EXECUTIVE. In this file photo, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is in a phone call with French President Emmanuel Macron on September 28, 2023.

Presidential Communications Office

'There is also a question, should we return under the fold of the ICC? So that’s again under study. So we’ll just keep looking at it and see what our options are,' says President Marcos

MANILA, Philippines – President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said on Friday, November 24, that the return of the Philippines to the International Criminal Court (ICC) is the “under study.”

Marcos made the statement in a media interview in Taguig City, while responding to questions on the proposed House resolutions urging the government to cooperate with the ICC investigation into the Duterte administration’s drug war.

“There is also a question, should we return under the fold of the ICC? So that’s again under study. So we’ll just keep looking at it and see what our options are,” Marcos said on Friday, November 24.

The ICC probe focuses on the drug war that killed around 30,000 people, based on the estimate of several human rights groups. The probe also includes the crimes of the so-called Davao Death Squad.

Marcos said that such proposed resolutions are not “unusual.” He also reiterated the issues of “jurisdiction and sovereignty” in relation to the ICC investigation.

“It’s really a sense of the House resolution and the sense, they are just expressing or manifesting the sense of the House that perhaps it’s time to allow or to cooperate with the ICC investigations. But as I have always said there are still problems in terms of jurisdiction and sovereignty,” Marcos said.

He added: “Now if we can solve these problems then that would be something else but medyo fundamental ‘yung mga kuwestyon na ganoon eh (but those questions are rather fundamental). Because if you are talking about the jurisdiction of the ICC especially since that we have withdrawn from the Rome Statute few years back, that brings into question whether or not this is actually possible.”

Marcos also said that it is not “right” for foreigners to dictate who will be investigated within the Philippines.

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla earlier said that the Philippine government’s cooperation with the ICC needs “serious study.” He said that that he will discuss the matter with Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin to ensure that they are on the “same page” about the matter.

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Remulla says Marcos gov’t to discuss rejoining ICC

Remulla says Marcos gov’t to discuss rejoining ICC

Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra earlier maintained that the Philippines is not legally obliged to cooperate with the ICC.

“Such resolution, if adopted, runs counter to the position of the republic, repeatedly declared by no less than the president, the head of state, that the Philippines has no legal duty to cooperate with the ICC on jurisdictional grounds, and that any such unwanted interference in our affairs by the ICC will encroach upon the sovereignty of our country,” Guevarra, who had served as Duterte DOJ chief, said on Thursday.

Article 127 of the Rome Statute is clear — all proceedings prior to the withdrawal of a state remain valid. Even the Philippines’ very own Supreme Court stands by this principle.

Less than a month into his presidency, Marcos met with Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Juan Ponce Enrile, then-executive secretary Vic Rodriguez, Guevarra, Remulla, Foreign Secretary Enrique Manalo, and former palace spokesperson Harry Roque to discuss his government’s strategy in dealing with the ICC probe.

On August 1, 2022, Marcos said that “the Philippines has no intention of rejoining the ICC.” In February, the President said he cannot cooperate with ICC unless the jurisdiction question is resolved.

When the ICC appeals chamber junked the Philippines’ appeal against the ongoing probe in July this year, Marcos shut the door on future dealings with the ICC.

Marcos says Philippines’ return to ICC ‘under study’

The ICC probe into the drug war killings led by Prosecutor Karim Khan continues, as the junking of the Philippine appeal greenlighted the probe. The Marcos government is at the center of this issue because the President will decide on whether the government will cooperate with the ICC in the probe.

In the event that warrants are issued against the people tagged in the probe, the ICC will have to rely on the cooperation of the Marcos government, since the court relies on the cooperation of the states in matters of arrest and surrender. —

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Jairo Bolledo

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