‘No arguments over ICC probe on drug war’  

Neil Jayson Servallos - The Philippine Star
�No arguments over ICC probe on drug war�   
Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla told the parliamentarians that the government intends to convince the ICC to instead drop the task of investigating the alleged crimes against humanity to the Department of Justice (DOJ).
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla had expected to argue with the European Parliament’s delegates who visited the Philippines this week over the country’s human rights situation, but came away saying his discussion with them about the International Criminal Court (ICC)’s looming investigation was “not argumentative.”

Remulla met on Thursday afternoon with members of the European Parliament that included Isabel Wiseler-Lima of the European People’s Party, Karsten Lucke of the Group of Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, Hannah Neumann of The Greens and the European Free Alliance, Ryszard Czarnecki of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group and Miguel Urban Crespo of The Left.

He said the visit took place in the context of “open and regular engagement on human rights between the Philippines and the EU (European Union).”

Remulla told the parliamentarians that the government intends to convince the ICC to instead drop the task of investigating the alleged crimes against humanity to the Department of Justice (DOJ).

“What I told them is if the ICC really has a problem they want to investigate here, just give it to us, and we will do it. Because these are crimes committed in the Philippines, by Filipinos, right? Well, we’ll just do it ourselves. They no longer interjected,” Remulla told reporters after the meeting, saying the ICC conversation lasted no longer than three minutes.

“After that, nothing else was said about the ICC. They didn’t interject anymore because we talked for a long time. Most of it is about judicial reform, correction reform, corrections in our reforms on prosecution, reforms on bail, and all the improvements we are making, they seemed surprised so they didn’t argue with us. They are not argumentative actually,” he added.

While such was the case, Remulla said the parliamentarians also raised key issues in the country including the detention of former senator Leila de Lima and fake news.

The justice secretary did not disclose the particulars of the conversation on De Lima, but he said he told the parliamentarians that her camp had been advised that they could file a habeas corpus petition for her provisional liberty.

On fake news, Remulla said the government will not be weaponizing cyberlibel laws but the DOJ intends to address the problem.

Meanwhile, Remulla said he would be flying to Geneva, Switzerland on Monday for the United Nations Human Rights Council’s 52nd regular session, where he would be speaking about prison reform.

After the meeting, Czarnecki of the conservatives and reformists was asked for a short statement as he walked to their coach and told reporters “we have (our) fingers crossed for your country.”

On several occasions, the European Parliament expressed its concerns about wrongful deaths, the detention of former senator De Lima now on its sixth year, and other human rights issues that hound the Philippine government.

Remulla has been vocal about not letting the ICC investigate on Philippine soil the Duterte administration’s alleged crimes against humanity, viewing the investigation as an insult and an act of attempting to “take over” the country’s justice system. He has also highlighted how the Philippines already withdrew from the Rome Statute, dissolving its status as a party to the ICC.


Youth group Anakbayan has slammed Sen. Ronald dela Rosa over insistence that the impending ICC investigation on the Duterte administration’s war on drugs is a threat to the country’s sovereignty.

“The ICC probe is not a threat to our sovereignty. It may just be a threat to Duterte, Bato dela Rosa and their cohorts who implemented the bloody war on drugs,” Anakbayan national chairperson Jeann Miranda said in Filipino.

The group issued the statement, following a heated discussion between Dela Rosa and five visiting lawmakers from the European Union last Wednesday.

Dela Rosa told reporters that he specifically berated Spanish lawmaker Miguel Urban Crespo, who he described as “very hot” on the issue of the war on drugs and even questioned why Sen. Jinggoy Estrada filed a resolution opposing the ICC investigation.

For its part, labor coalition Nagkaisa urged the Senate to reciprocate the concerns aired by EU parliamentarians on the bloody drug war during the administration of former president Rodrigo Duterte.

“We laud the EU parliamentarians taking up the concerns of those victims and their families. During the meeting, EU Parliament member Hannah Neumann reiterated the EU Delegation’s concerns over the reported thousands of victims of extrajudicial killings in the war on drugs,” Nagkaisa chair Sonny Matula said.

Matula added that the Senate and other lawmakers should support the establishment of a presidential body to investigate the failed drug war and other human rights abuses. – Elizabeth Marcelo, Mayen Jaymalin

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