Ex-ICC judge cites alternative ways to gather evidence on Duterte's drug war

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 20) — There is no stopping the International Criminal Court from gathering evidence under the anti-drug campaign of President Rodrigo Duterte, a retired judge of the tribunal stressed on Monday.

Speaking to CNN Philippines' The Source, former ICC judge Raul Pangalangan enumerated ways in which investigation into the alleged crimes against humanity could proceed despite the Philippine government's refusal to cooperate.

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"Investigations can be done via online video mechanisms," Pangalangan said.

He said that relevant statements and any other evidence from witnesses who step forward can be entertained by the ICC as a record of the case in order to establish sufficient basis to file charges against the accused.

"The case and the investigation can move forward without the cooperation of the state. Because the only issue is whether there is enough evidence to support an indictment," he said. "If that evidence is secured locally by witnesses who stepped forward within the Philippines and that evidence is sent on to the Hague, it will be available to support an indictment."

"I must emphasize also that the role of victims within the court's system is more engaged in the ICC than what we are more familiar with in the Philippines," he added, noting that victims are represented by their own counsel sitting in the courtroom apart from the prosecution and the defense.

"And the legal representative of the victims, they do get to participate in the trial, they get to question the witnesses and assuming there is a conviction, there is an entirely separate stage of the proceedings for reparations of victims," he added.

Pangalangan also reiterated that the ICC has jurisdiction on crimes committed in the Philippines despite the country's withdrawal from the Rome Statute, which took effect in 2019. He said that he expects that the probe spearheaded by ICC prosecutor Karim Khan is already in progress.

The ICC recently gave a go signal to investigate the killings committed during the drug war from July 1, 2016 to March 16, 2019, as well as in Davao City — by what is known as the Davao Death Squad — between Nov. 1, 2011 to June 30, 2016.

The Chamber said it reviewed 204 victims' representations, adding 94% of the victims were in favor of the investigation.

Last week, the Duterte administration reiterated it will not cooperate with the ICC probe.

Duterte's spokesperson Harry Roque quoted the President as saying he would die first before he faces foreign judges.

RELATED: ICC pre-trial chamber authorizes PH drug war probe