Opposition to ICC return supports ex-president Duterte — De Lima

Ian Laqui - Philstar.com
Opposition to ICC return supports ex-president Duterte � De Lima
Former Philippine senator and human rights campaigner Leila de Lima talks during an interview with AFP in Manila on November 24, 2023.
AFP / Jam Sta Rosa

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 3:27 p.m.) — Former Senator Leila de Lima said that individuals against the Philippines rejoining the International Criminal Court (ICC) are primarily serving the interests of former President Rodrigo Duterte.

The former justice secretary said on Tuesday that rejoining the ICC is the "right thing" to do, saying that the 2019 withdrawal was "questionable" for it "served the interests of one man." 

“Here we are, dahil may isang tao na gustong umiwas sa accountability, bigla niyang winithdraw so anong problema ngayon sa pagbalik natin which is the right thing to do?”  De Lima said in an interview with the reporters after a court hearing at Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 206. 

(Here we are, because there's someone who wants to avoid accountability, they suddenly withdrew. So what's the problem now with our return, which is the right thing to do?)

“Those who oppose rejoining the ICC are only serving the interest of Duterte and others who are responsible for the murder of thousands of our countrymen,” De Lima also said in a post on X (formerly Twitter).

De Lima said she is hopeful that the government will have a “positive” stance toward rejoining the tribunal. 

“I hope really that the result of that study by the executive department will be positive,” De Lima said during an interview with reporters, expressing her readiness to assist with the ICC probe.

On November 24, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said the administration was studying whether the Philippines would rejoin the ICC. 

“There's also a question should we return under the fold of the ICC. That is under study. We'll just keep looking at it and see what our options are," Marcos said.

This has been echoed by Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla who also insisted that the government will not allow the ICC to impose anything. 

In 2019, the Philippines withdrew from the Rome Statute after ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda began a preliminary inquiry into reported human rights violations during the former President Duterte’s anti-drug campaign. Human Rights Watch estimates that this campaign resulted in the deaths of thousands of individuals.

However, even after the country's departure from the tribunal, former Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio pointed out, based on a Supreme Court ruling, that the Philippines remains obligated to cooperate. This obligation arises from the alleged crimes during the war on drugs, which occurred while the country was still under the jurisdiction of the ICC.

On Tuesday, Sen. Risa Hontiveros filed a Senate resolution urging Malacañang and other government agencies to cooperate with the ICC investigation.

Similar resolutions were also filed in the House of Representatives despite the pronouncement of House Speaker Martin Romualdez that the House would adhere to Marcos’ policies on the ICC. 

In line with the administration's stand, Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra said that the decision to rejoin the ICC is a "policy decision" requiring collaboration between the executive and legislative branches, not solely achievable through a House resolution.

"This matter needs a very serious study because many factors and competing interests need to be considered," Guevarra said.

De Lima, one of the most vocal critics of the former president Duterte and his deadly drug war that sparked an international investigation into possible crimes against humanity, was released on November 13.

Before her arrest on Feb. 24, 2017, De Lima had spent a decade investigating "death squad" killings allegedly orchestrated by Duterte during his time as Davao City mayor and in the early days of his presidency.

As Duterte and his allies sought to silence De Lima, she was ousted from the Senate and imprisoned on three drug trafficking charges. Two of the charges have been dismissed. — with a report from Agence France-Presse

vuukle comment







  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with