Marcos not changing stance on ICC

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star
Marcos not changing stance on ICC
President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. on January 23, 2024.
STAR / KJ Rosales

MANILA, Philippines — President Marcos is not changing his stance that the International Criminal Court (ICC) has no jurisdiction over the Philippines despite a recent poll suggesting that the majority of Filipinos are in favor of the government cooperating with the tribunal on its probe on the deaths tied to the previous administration’s drug war.

Speaking to reporters in Manila yesterday, Marcos said that the ICC can produce as much evidence as it wants, but it cannot act upon it in the Philippines because of jurisdiction-related questions.

“No. It’s not about the evidence, it’s about the jurisdiction of the ICC in the Philippines,” the President said when asked if there is still a possibility that he would change his mind about the ICC if he sees more evidence.

“It opens (a) Pandora’s Box because it’s still those questions of jurisdictions and sovereignty that I haven’t yet seen a sufficient answer for. Until then, I do not recognize their jurisdiction in the Philippines... That seems to be the only logical conclusion that you can come to in that situation,” he added.

Marcos’ predecessor, former president Rodrigo Duterte, has been accused of committing crimes against humanity over his controversial drug crackdown that left more than 6,000 suspects dead.

In 2021, an ICC pre-trial chamber allowed an investigation into the drug war, saying the legal element of the crime against humanity of murder under the Rome Statute – the treaty that established the court – has been met.

The Philippines ratified the statute in 2011, but Duterte withdrew the country from the treaty seven years later.

The former chief executive has insisted that the ICC has no jurisdiction over him and that he would only answer his accusers before a local judge.

Late last month, Marcos said that the Philippine government won’t lift a finger to help the ICC with its investigation on Duterte’s war on narcotics.

He added that an ICC investigation poses a “threat” to Philippine sovereignty.

While Marcos does not recognize the ICC’s jurisdiction, a survey by OCTA Research conducted from Dec. 10 to 14 indicated that 55 percent of adult Filipinos are in favor of the government cooperating with the tribunal on its probe of the drug war while 45 percent are not in favor of the idea. More than half or 59 percent of adult Filipinos are in favor of the Philippines rejoining the ICC, while 41 percent are against it.

Last month, former senator Antonio Trillanes IV, a fierce critic of Duterte, said ICC probers visited the Philippines to conduct interviews on the anti-drug campaign. Officials have not confirmed the alleged visit of ICC investigators.

Pressed if he approves of the presence of the ICC in the Philippines, Marcos replied: “I don’t approve or deny. You know, they haven’t done anything illegal.”

“Once they do, of course, we will do something about it but ... we’re an open country, we’re not a closed country,” he added.

In a recent interview, the Chief Executive said that ICC representatives can come as “ordinary people,” but the government would make sure that they do not come into contact with any state agency. — Sheila Crisostomo, Jennifer Rendon

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