DOJ chief sees no need for PH response to ICC prosecutor’s fresh call for drug war probe

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 28) — There’s no need for the Philippine government to formally respond to the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor’s insistence to resume the drug war probe on the country, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said Wednesday.

Remulla pointed out in a media briefing that the Philippines is not obliged to do so, as it already withdrew from the ICC during former President Rodrigo Duterte’s term.

“We are a sovereign country that has a functioning system," he told reporters. "So, I don’t see what the racket is all about, because as far as we're concerned, we're not members of the ICC anymore."

The DOJ chief said the government earlier submitted its arguments against ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan’s initial request to reopen the investigation, not as a matter of obligation but only “out of the principle of comity."

He also took a swipe at Khan, who argued that the government has not submitted any concrete evidence to contradict the ICC pre-trial chamber’s previous findings on Duterte’s controversial anti-drug campaign.

“Here comes a foreigner who thinks he knows the Philippines more than we do, who thinks that it is so easy to run government from our side of the fence,” Remulla said.

“Are they dictating on us—what we should do as a country?” he added. “I hope that the ICC will know that Mr. Khan is doing them a great disservice by putting a challenge to our system here. Are they putting a challenge to our system here?”

Meanwhile, Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra, who was the DOJ chief before Remulla, said the Philippines will avail of all legal remedies, both domestic and international, regardless of the pre-trial chamber’s ruling.

“The OSG (Office of the Solicitor General) represents the state, but we may consider engaging any foreign counsel as and when the need arises," he said in a statement. "Should the ICC investigation result in the indictment of individual persons, the latter will have to engage their own respective private counsel to defend themselves.”

Guevarra maintained that the government “vigorously pursues” its own investigation and prosecution of crimes linked to the war on drugs.

For his part, Senator Ronald Dela Rosa – who was the Philippine National Police chief when the Duterte administration started the drug war — questioned the motive of Khan for the resumption of the probe.

Kapag tanungin mo naman ang Pilipino, wala namang nangyayaring crimes against humanity dito sa ating bansa. For all we know, the Filipinos should know it more than Mr. Khan. Bakit mas alam pa niya yung sitwasyon natin dito kaysa sa mga Pilipino?” said Dela Rosa in an interview with CNN Philippines’ News Night.

[Translation: If you ask the Filipinos, there’s no such crimes against humanity that happened in our country. For all we know, the Filipinos should know it more than Mr. Khan. Why does he act as if he knows our situation better than the Filipinos?]

“That leaves a very big question mark for me. Bakit siya insisting? Sinong nasa likuran niya? Anong motive niya? I don’t think ang habol niya lang ay talagang justice,” he added. “Kasi kung justice ang habol niya, we have the Department of Justice, we have our own Justice secretary shooing him away.”

[Translation: That leaves a very big question mark for me. Why is he insisting? Who is behind him? What’s his motive? I don’t think he is just after justice. Because if he is seeking justice, we have the Department of Justice, we have our own Justice secretary shooing him away.”]

In November 2021, the ICC — upon the Philippines’ request — suspended its probe into the drug war.

Government data showed over 6,000 have died in the anti-drug campaign — a figure contested by many groups that believe the toll is much higher.