Disengaging with ICC disadvantageous for PH government – lawyer

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 29) — The Philippines would be at a disadvantage if it ends its involvement with the International Criminal Court (ICC), a lawyer said Wednesday.

On Tuesday, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said the Philippine government has no other option but to disengage from the ICC after the court denied Manila’s request to suspend its investigation into the Duterte administration's war on illegal drugs pending a decision on the main appeal against the resumption of the probe. 

“If they resist any further, then I would say that it will be harder for them to say that in the Philippines the system is working, and that eventually an ICC investigation is not necessary,” ICC Assistant to Counsel Kristina Conti told CNN Philippines’ The Source. “They would be at a disadvantage because they would be no longer communicating with the court to tell of what is happening in the Philippines."

According to the Appeals Chamber, the Philippines failed to explain its arguments, including the alleged implications of the ICC prosecutor’s activities on the suspects, witnesses, and victims, and how the probe will lead to “irreversible” consequences.

Conti, who is also secretary general of the National Union of Peoples' Lawyers - National Capital Region, said this is a welcome development.

“I would call it all systems go because the victims have also been allowed to participate in the proceedings,” she noted.

Conti said they are currently preparing the documents that will contain comments of the families of the victims, which will be submitted in May. 

For human rights group Rise Up for Life and for Rights, 50 to 100 sets of views and concerns may be submitted, Conti noted.

She said their camp is also ready to assist the ICC in its investigation in case the Philippine government continues to refrain from cooperating.