International Criminal Court

ICC probe of drug war getting increasing trust among Filipinos – surveys

Lian Buan

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ICC probe of drug war getting increasing trust among Filipinos – surveys

PROBE. Activists gather outside the House of Representatives in Quezon City, to call on President Marcos Jr. to acknowledge the International Criminal Court’s jurisdiction over the investigation into the drug war killings.

Jire Carreon/Rappler

Polling firms SWS and OCTA ask different questions about the ICC, and responses show an increasing trend favoring the investigation

MANILA, Philippines – There is increasing trust and approval among Filipinos toward the International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation of the bloody drug war under former president Rodrigo Duterte, surveys by polling firm OCTA Research (OCTA) and Social Weather Stations (SWS) show.

SWS and OCTA asked different questions about the ICC, and responses to all questions indicate an increasing trend in favor of the probe.

As of December 2023, the SWS survey shows 25% of Filipinos “strongly approve” of the ICC investigation, which is an increase from 20% in March 2023. There is also an increase from 25% to 28% in the number of Filipinos who “somewhat approve” of the investigation. There are lesser Filipinos undecided about the issue, from 31% to 26%, and also lesser Filipinos who “strongly disapprove” of the investigation, from 14% to 11%.

The SWS survey also asked whether the government should allow the ICC investigation. According to the survey, 26% of Filipinos “strongly approve” of government allowing the investigation. It has increased from 21% in March 2023. This issue follows the same increasing trend as the first question.

This is a separate issue because since Duterte withdrew the Philippines from the ICC in 2018, government officials from his administration to the current Ferdinand Marcos Jr administration had insisted that the ICC had lost jurisdiction over the Philippines.

The Rome Statute says that proceedings which had started before the withdrawal continue to be valid even after withdrawal. In the Duterte government’s last attempt to stop the investigation, it argued that the “proceedings” referred to in the Rome Statute would retain their validity post-withdrawal only in the “investigation” phase or step 2 of the ICC process.

When Duterte withdrew, the Philippines was only in the preliminary examination stage or Step 1 of the process. This argument got two votes in the ICC appeal chambers in July 2023. The vote in the end was 3-2 to continue the investigation.

OCTA survey, too

According to the OCTA survey done also in December 2023, majority of adult Filipinos, or 59%, are in favor of rejoining the ICC.

The Marcos government has kept an indefinite stance on whether it would cooperate with the ICC investigation, although in his most recent statement, the President said the government “will not lift a finger to help.” This was amid reports that investigators had entered the country in December, and amid speculations from the Duterte camp that an arrest warrant is in the horizon.

The investigation is at a stage where prosecutor Karim Khan can request for a warrant or a summons.

The OCTA survey also shows that 55% of adult Filipinos are in favor of the government cooperating with the ICC.

Filipinos have also gotten more knowledgeable about the ICC since 2018 when the preliminary examination started, according to the SWS survey. From 10% extensive knowledge about the ICC investigation in March 2023, it is now up at 14%. There is now 30% of Filipinos who have “partial but sufficient” knowledge, which is up from 24% in March.

While majority, or 55% of Filipinos, remain unsure that the ICC would be able to conduct an impartial investigation, there is an increase of trust at 29% according to the SWS survey. It used to be 22% trust in March, and 56% unsure.

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan is a senior investigative reporter, and minder of Rappler's justice, human rights and crime cluster.