Duterte rejects cooperation in ICC probe, while Dela Rosa looks to Marcos

Xave Gregorio - Philstar.com
Duterte rejects cooperation in ICC probe, while Dela Rosa looks to Marcos
This file photo shows then-President Rodrigo Duterte standing beside then-Philippine National Police chief Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa during Dela Rosa's Assumption of Command Ceremony at the Camp Crame in Manila on July 1, 2016.
AFP / Noel Celis

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 5:03 p.m.) — Former President Rodrigo Duterte reiterated Friday that he will never cooperate with the International Criminal Court’s investigation into his administration’s “war on drugs,” while the campaign’s architect, Sen. Ronald dela Rosa, said his participation would depend on the Marcos administration.

Speaking through his former spokesperson, Duterte said “he would never allow foreigners to sit in judgment of him as long as Philippine courts are willing and able to do so.”

“He would humbly submit to the prosecution and judgment of any local court. He is ready to face any of his accusers,” former presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement.

Dela Rosa, meanwhile, said his cooperation in the ICC’s investigation into alleged crimes against humanity committed during the course of the drug war would depend if the government would also cooperate.

“If the Philippine government will allow them, I would have to cooperate. It is the government that is cooperating. I am part of the government, so why not,” he said in a virtual news briefing.

As it stands, the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said it intends to appeal the resumption of the ICC investigation into the "war on drugs" of his predecessor, former President Rodrigo Duterte.

Along with former Duterte, Dela Rosa and other top police officials have been accused of committing crimes against humanity before the ICC which just reopened its investigation into the " war on drugs" after a pause prompted by a request from the Philippine government.

RELATED: ICC notes domestic PHL proceedings only concern low-ranking perpetrators

Dela Rosa said he has not spoken with Duterte on the relaunching of the ICC probe, but added that the former president is confident that nothing will happen about it.

“He’s confident that nothing will happen with this. Because if our government does not want to cooperate, nothing will happen,” Dela Rosa said in Filipino.

“Hypothetically, they sent out a warrant of arrest against us … Who will implement the warrant of arrest? The Philippine government is not bound by their rulings,” he added.

Duterte pulled the country out of the Hague-based tribunal in 2019 after its former prosecutor Fatou Bensouda launched a preliminary examination into his brutal anti-drugs campaign that left thousands dead. Marcos already said the Philippines has no intention to rejoin the ICC.

But the alleged crimes being probed by the ICC were committed during the time when the Philippines was still a member of the tribunal, which means that investigations can still continue.

ICC probe in Philippines?

Dela Rosa, however, said that for the ICC’s investigation to be credible, it must do its probe in the Philippines, which would require the cooperation of the Marcos Jr. administration, where the daughter of the former chief executive sits as vice president.

“They cannot prosecute just based on news reports, based on the internet. For them to have a good, credible investigation, they should come in,” Dela Rosa said.

He also claimed that leftists and forces against Duterte, whom he said have axes to grind against the former president, instigated the ICC to reopen its investigation into the “war on drugs.”

In a statement Thursday, the ICC said its pre-trial chamber "is not satisfied that the Philippines is undertaking relevant investigations that would warrant a deferral of the court's investigations".

"The various domestic initiatives and proceedings, assessed collectively, do not amount to tangible, concrete and progressive investigative steps," it added.

But Dela Rosa insisted the ICC’s findings have no basis. “The Department of Justice did everything in its investigation. Our courts are acting on cases and there have been convictions,” he said.

Officially, 6,181 people were killed in Duterte's "war on drugs" but rights groups say that up to 30,000 may have been killed, some innocent victims, and that corruption was rife among security forces that acted with impunity.

There were only two convictions of law enforcers involved in the "drug war" — the murder of 17-year-old Kian Delos Santos, and the torture and frame-up of 19-year-old Carl Arnaiz and 14-year-old Reynaldo ‘Kulot’ de Guzman. — with Agence France-Presse

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