Senate resolution urging Marcos admin's cooperation in ICC probe filed

Cristina Chi - Philstar.com
Senate resolution urging Marcos admin's cooperation in ICC probe filed
This photo shows a memorial with the names of the victims of extra-judicial killings.
Karapatan, Release

MANILA, Philippines — After similar moves at the House, Sen. Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday filed a resolution at the Senate urging President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and relevant government agencies to work with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in its probe into the drug war under the Duterte administration.

Senate Resolution 867 follows at least three resolutions filed at the House last week seeking a similar ICC cooperation from the Marcos administration — prompting Marcos to tell reporters on the sidelines of an event last Friday that returning to the ICC as a member is “under study.”

Hontiveros’ counterpart resolution emphasized that despite former President Rodrigo Duterte’s withdrawal from the Rome Statute in 2018, which took effect in 2019, the ICC retained its jurisdiction over the drug-related killings that happened while the Philippines was still a member.

The Senate resolution also cited the 2021 ruling by the Supreme Court stating that the ICC can still prosecute those responsible for the drug war even as the Philippines left the Rome Statue — the ICC’s founding treaty — in 2018. 

Specifically, the SC ruling stated that the ICC retains jurisdiction over acts committed prior to the Philippines’ exit on March 17, 2019, which overlaps with the first three years of Duterte's presidency and anti-illegal drugs campaign.

Hontiveros, one of two members of the Senate minority bloc, said that the current government’s cooperation with the ICC would affirm the country’s commitment to advancing humanitarian law and international justice.

"The recent pronouncements by the President, his allies and his deputies offer hope for a ‘gamechanger’ for the families of Kian delos Santos, Carl Angelo Arnaiz, Reynaldo "Kulot" de Guzman, and thousands of other Filipino families seeking justice for human rights violations,” Hontiveros said, referring to the victims of extrajudicial killings during Duterte’s so-called war on drugs.

Adopted resolutions in Congress do not have the force of law but serve as a formal declaration of the stance of the Senate or the House of Representatives. 

The ICC in July rejected the Philippines' appeal to halt the international court's resumption of its probe into the alleged crimes against humanity committed when Duterte was president and, earlier, Davao City mayor.

RELATED: Probe into Duterte 'drug war' resumes as ICC rejects Philippines' bid to block it 

 ‘Under study’ 

Marcos told reporters last Friday that proposals for the country to rejoin the ICC are now "under study" but maintained that the House resolutions urging his administration's cooperation with the international tribunal are "not unusual."

Prior to changing his tune about the ICC — considered the court of last resort for countries unwilling or unable to prosecute offenders — Marcos said in August 2022 that the Philippines “has no intention” of rejoining the ICC. The president also said in March that the Philippines was "disengaging from any contact" with the ICC.

Marcos said that there are still problems of “jurisdiction” and “sovereignty” with regard to the government’s cooperation with the ICC. 

“As I have always said, there are still some problems in terms of jurisdiction and sovereignty. Now, if you can solve those problems then that would be something else,” Marcos told reporters at the sidelines of an event in Taguig City.

The president also said that the resolutions filed at the lower chamber — led by his cousin Speaker Martin Romualdez — are merely an expression of “sense” of the House. 

“It’s really a sense of the House resolution and the sense – they are just expressing or manifesting the sense of the House that perhaps it’s time to allow or to cooperate with the ICC investigation,” Marcos said.

House Majority Leader Manuel Dalipe said last week that the House leadership will treat the ICC-related resolutions no different from other resolutions House resolutions as “respect to the autonomy of the legislative process.”

During the Duterte administration's six-year deadly "war on drugs," government records show at least 6,000 people were killed in police operations, but human rights groups estimate that the true number may be as high as 30,000.

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