By Benjamin Pulta
MANILA – The Philippines will thwart impositions from the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate alleged excesses in the country’s war on illegal drugs, justice officials said Friday.
Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra said the Philippines will elevate the case to the ICC Appeals Chamber.
“We have received information that the Pre-Trial Chamber (PTC) has authorized the ICC prosecutor to resume investigation into the Philippine situation. While we have not received an official copy of this resolution, it is our intention to exhaust our legal remedies, more particularly elevating the matter to the ICC Appeals Chamber,” Guevarra said in an interview.
In a press briefing, Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla reiterated the government’s earlier position that the ICC can rightfully conduct proceedings only in states without a functioning government and justice system.
“We are doing what it takes to fix the system. We have a functional judicial system and I don’t see where they can come in unless they want to take over our legal system and take over our country. I don’t see that happening,” Remulla said.
He said the “unreasonable” decision is not welcome in the Philippines and DOJ “will not stand for any of these antics that tend to question our sovereignty and out status as a sovereign country.”
Morris Tidball-Binz, a medical doctor from Chile and a United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings, will arrive in February to help in the country’s efforts to improve its “limited” capacity in forensics.
Remulla personally invited Tidball-Binz in November last year, a proof that the Philippines “does not deny that there are problems within the system, is open to suggestions and is open to improving whatever situation.”
Guevarra said the Philippines’ domestic investigative and judicial processes should take precedence.
“We can show that despite structural and resource limitations in our legal system, it is still a well-functioning system that yields positive results in its own time,” Guevarra said.
The PTC approved ICC prosecutor Karim Khan’s request to continue its probe into “the Situation of the Republic of the Philippines,” according to a statement on Thursday.
“Following a careful analysis of the materials provided by the Philippines, the Chamber is not satisfied that the Philippines is undertaking relevant investigations that would warrant a deferral of the Court’s investigations on the basis of the complementarity principle,” the Hague-based international court said.
Meanwhile, Senator Risa Hontiveros urged President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. to cooperate with the ICC.
“I hope for the cooperation of all agencies involved so we may give justice and peace of mind to all the victims,” Hontiveros said in a statement.
Hontiveros said an impartial body should investigate alleged murders committed by government agents. (With a report from Leonel Abasola/PNA)