Remulla says PH won’t engage with ICC any longer

By Benjamin Pulta

July 19, 2023, 6:31 pm Updated on July 19, 2023, 6:32 pm

<p>International Criminal Court<em> (File photo) </em></p>

International Criminal Court (File photo) 

MANILA – Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla on Wednesday said the Philippine government will no longer engage with the International Criminal Court (ICC) following the tribunal's decision to reject the Philippines' appeal on the continuation of the investigation into the alleged excesses of the last administration's drug war.

"Hindi na tayo makikipag-usap sa kanila (We will no longer talk to them). What they will be doing will be usurpation of public functions," Remulla said referring to the ICC.

He said the government's appeal with the ICC was merely part of the policy of comity between nations and does not mean the government is submitting to the tribunal's jurisdiction.

Remulla added that while the tribunal has no power of compulsion if it decides to issue arrest warrants in the Philippines, it may be prudent for those named in the ICC case not to go to countries where the ICC may have power to enforce an arrest.

"My advise is [for those named in the ICC case] not to go to countries where the ICC will be able to influence the judicial system. ‘Wag kayo pupunta sa lugar na maaring makialam ang ICC. Dito, hindi sila pwedeng makialam talaga rito (Don't go to a place where the ICC can interfere. Here, they can't really interfere)," Remulla said adding that these may include European countries.

For his part, Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra said the question of jurisdiction over the proceedings may still be cited by the individuals who may be investigated by the ICC.

"The gaping hole in the ICC decision was its failure to rule on jurisdiction. The majority [3] did not tackle it, and the minority [2], including the presiding judge took a strong position that the ICC had already lost jurisdiction over the Philippines when the ICC prosecutor sought to commence his investigation. This unresolved issue of jurisdiction will be a powerful argument for any person who may be investigated or charged by the ICC," Guevarra said.

Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said it will take the lead of the national government in dealing with the ICC.

“We will fully support and acknowledge the jurisdiction of the Philippine government as to the nature of the investigation,” PNP spokesperson Col. Jean Fajardo told reporters when sought for a comment in a press briefing at Camp Crame in Quezon City on Wednesday.

Fajardo’s statement was in response to the decision of the ICC to reject Manila's appeal to stop the investigation of the international court into the drug war.

“The Philippine National Police is under the Executive department and we will follow the lead of the national government that there is a question with respect to the sovereignty and jurisdiction of the ICC,” she added.

The PNP was at the forefront of the campaign against illegal drugs wherein more than 6,000 people linked to drug activities died during various police operations under the administration of former President Rodrigo Duterte.

“As to the extent and nature of cooperation of your national police, we will take the lead on what our national leadership would say, then the PNP will follow,” Fajardo said.

On the part of the PNP, Fajardo said they took the initiative of reviewing the drug war which resulted in the submission of 52 cases of possible police abuses in the campaign against illegal drugs.

These cases involve more than 100 cops across the country.

“When the Department of Justice started its investigation, the PNP cooperated and we provided the DOJ investigators with the necessary documents with respect to the 52 cases that are under investigation,” Fajardo said.

The 52 cases, however, are still under investigation by the PNP although the DOJ has already recommended the filing of charges against some policemen in connection with some of those cases.

Fajardo also assured that all the documents pertaining to the campaign against illegal drugs are with the PNP.

“All the operations from the station to provincial to regional are forwarded particularly at the office of the DIDM (Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management). So if there is really a need to produce these case folders then the PNP is ready to provide if directed to submit,” Fajardo said. (with Lloyd Caliwan/PNA)