PHL to ICC: Take back green light for probe


THE Philippine government has asked the International Criminal Court-Appeals Chamber to abandon the January 26  decision of the Pre-Trial Chambers (PTC)  authorizing the resumption of the investigation on the abuses and deaths related to the anti-illegal drug of the Duterte administration.

In an appeals brief submitted last March 13,  the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) maintained that the ICC has lost  jurisdiction over the country following the  withdrawal of its membership in 2019 upon the directive of then President Duterte.

The Philippine government through Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra also asked the ICC to suspend, pending the resolution of its appeal,  the implementation of the PTC’s decision that allowed Prosecutor Karim Khan to resume the investigation of the Philippines’s bloody anti-illegal drug campaign.

The PTC, in granting Khan’s request, said the information and materials submitted by the Philippine government before the ICC “do not amount to tangible, concrete and progressive investigative steps in a way that would sufficiently mirror the Tribunal investigation.”

The OSG raised four grounds in seeking the reversal of the PTC’s decision.

In the first ground, the OSG said the PTC erred in finding that the ICC could exercise its jurisdiction on the basis that the Philippines was a State party at the time of the alleged crime and that the ensuing obligations of the Statute remain applicable notwithstanding Manila’s withdrawal from the Statute.

It also said the PTC made an error in its admissibility assessment under Article 18 concerning the situation in the country.

Finally, the OSG said the PTC erred in its failure to consider all Article 17 factors.

Article 17(1) of the Rome Statute declares that a case is inadmissible in its tribunal if it is being investigated or prosecuted by a State which has jurisdiction over it, and could only open one if the State is unwilling or unable genuinely to carry out the investigation or prosecution.

On the other hand, Article 17(2), also held an inquiry can be done if there is “unwillingness by a State or country to participate, if the proceedings were or are being undertaken or the national decision was made for the purpose of shielding the person concerned from criminal responsibility for crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court, including crimes against humanity.

“The reality is the Philippine Government has withdrawn from the Rome Statute and the  Court does not have jurisdiction over the situation.

“However, even with this in mind,  the Philippine Government remains committed to the goals of the Court and actively  engaged with the Prosecution and the Court in the context of article 18 on this basis,” the OSG said.

The Philippine government warned of “far-reaching and inimical consequences” should the appeals chamber decide to affirm the PTC decision.

“Should the Court proceed in the absence of a jurisdictional basis “its mandate would be adversely affected due to the implications  such acts would have for those affected by the Court’s operations, in particular suspects, witnesses and victims,” the OSG said.

“The Court cannot overstretch its jurisdiction and it cannot unreasonably and unnecessarily exert its dominance over a State’s primary right to investigate and prosecute serious crimes. This neither serves the prosperity of the Court and more fundamentally erodes its contribution to global justice,” the OSG added.

Earlier, the DOJ said  investigation on the drug war-related deaths is ongoing and that there are 290 cases under different stages of investigation, prosecution and in court.