By Darryl John Esguerra

Presidential Communications Secretary Cheloy Garafil. (File photo)

MANILA – The Department of Justice’s (DOJ) move to prepare a legal brief for President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. was just “standard procedure” to lay out his options over arrest warrants of the International Criminal Court (ICC) against Filipino nationals.

Presidential Communications Secretary Cheloy Garafil said this in a statement on Thursday even as she added that the President’s stance on the ICC issue “remains clear and consistent.”

However, Garafil noted that it is the duty of the DOJ, as the government’s principal law agency, “to explore all legal avenues and ensure that the President is fully informed of his options.”

“This is standard procedure, not a change in position, ensuring that our administration remains prepared for any scenario,” Garafil said.

On Wednesday, the DOJ announced that it is preparing a legal brief to help Marcos weigh in on several options in case the ICC issues a warrant against his predecessor, former President Rodrigo Duterte and several others.

This follows the claim of former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV that the ICC may issue an arrest warrant against Duterte by June.

The Marcos administration has repeatedly said that it would not recognize the ICC as the country is no longer a member and is more than willing and capable of prosecuting erring individuals.

Duterte is facing an ICC investigation for alleged crimes against humanity over his controversial war on drugs.

Trust in the President

Meanwhile, Senator Francis Tolentino on Friday urged Duterte and Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa to trust Marcos on his commitment that the government would never cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in its investigation into the war on drugs.

In an interview in Maragondon, Cavite, Tolentino said he is not familiar with the DOJ announcement but that he still believes the earlier pronouncements made by the President, maintaining that the Philippines is not a member of the Rome Statue anymore.

Maniwala tayo sa pangako ni Presidente BBM (Let us trust the promise of President Bongbong Marcos),” Tolentino said when asked about his advice for Duterte and Dela Rosa.

He also pointed out that the ICC would not be able to serve any warrant of arrest without the cooperation of the Philippine government.

Kelangan nila tulong ng domestic law enforcement body, dito sa atin NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) yan o kung di man, ise-serve yan dito, wala din yan (If they serve a warrant here, they need the help of a domestic law enforcement body, such as the NBI, without which, it would just come to nothing),” Tolentino said.

He also clarified that he is no longer the legal counsel of Dela Rosa. (with a report from Wilnard Bacelonia/PNA)