FUNCTIONAL JUSTICE. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. virtually gives his speech before the plenary session of the Second Session for Summit for Democracy on Wednesday (March 30, 2023). Marcos said the rule of law prevails in the Philippines and its criminal justice system is functioning fully. (Screengrab from The Summit for Democracy's Youtube channel)

MANILA – President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Wednesday said the rule of law prevails in the Philippines and its criminal justice system is functioning fully.

In a video message during the plenary session of the Second Session for Summit for Democracy, Marcos said the Philippines has been committed to fighting impunity for atrocity crimes despite the country's withdrawal from the Rome Statute in 2019.

Marcos made the remark following his latest pronouncement that the Philippines is “disengaging” from any contact and communication with the International Criminal Court (ICC) after it rejected the country’s request to suspend its ongoing investigation into former President Rodrigo Duterte's drug war.

“We continue to improve mechanisms such as the AO35 inter-agency committee to enhance accountability. The Philippines’ commitment to fight impunity for atrocity crimes is solid and unwavering, notwithstanding the withdrawal of the country from the Rome Statute,” he said.

“The Philippines has a national legislation punishing heinous crimes. We have vigorously exercised our jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute crimes, including those allegedly committed in the context of the anti-illegal drugs campaign,” he added.

In the Philippines’ fight against illegal drugs, he noted that the government continues focusing on strengthening state programs on rehabilitation, prevention, education and assistance to drug victims and their families as well as ensuring transparency and accountability in law enforcement operations.

He said the government is also investing more to enhance the administration of justice "through the various institutions and mechanisms already in place to protect the right to life, liberty and security of the Filipino people" to achieve its objectives for people-centered growth and prosperity.

Marcos cited as an example the establishment of the Department of Migrant Workers to protect and promote the rights of more than 10 million Filipino migrants.

He highlighted that the nation’s justice reform agenda acknowledges that real justice means the humane treatment of persons deprived of liberty and efficient prosecution of criminal cases.

President Marcos said the administration is pouring resources and energy into improving the processes in the investigation of cases and the witness protection program.

He further assured that the Philippines will continue being an active player both bilaterally and globally in dialogues tackling various issues based on constructive engagements as long as they back the country’s interests.

“The Philippines will continue to engage countries bilaterally and in international platforms on issues concerning democracy, human rights, and good governance, as long as these engagements are constructive, based on facts, and respectful of Philippine sovereignty,” Marcos said.

“The Philippines will sustain its tradition of open, constructive, and active engagement on human rights on matters that will meaningfully contribute towards reinforcing the sinews of democracy and of freedom. Thus, we enable our people to flourish and meet our national aspirations to be a modern prosperous middle-income society by 2040,” he added.

Marcos thanked US President Joe Biden and the US government for convening the Second Summit for Democracy, along with co-host countries Costa Rica, South Korea, The Netherlands, and Zambia.

The Filipino leader said the Summit “affirms the solidarity of nations bound by values of democracy and sends a powerful message of our collective will to bring about the best of peoples and societies empowered by freedom.” (PNA)