WHILE President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. holds the ultimate authority in deciding whether the Philippine government will collaborate with the International Criminal Court (ICC), the House Committee on Human Rights and House Committees on Justice on Wednesday adopted a resolution urging government cooperation with the ICC on the war on drugs under former President Rodrigo R. Duterte.
The panels have also endorsed Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman’s motion to collaborate with Sen. Risa Hontiveros in converting the resolutions into a concurrent resolution jointly adopted by both chambers.
House Resolution 1477 was filed last Monday by House Human Rights Committee Chairman Bienvenido M. Abante Jr. and 1-Rider Party-list Rep. Ramon Rodrigo L. Gutierrez.
HR 1477 acknowledges the Philippine government’s demonstration of respect for international law and acknowledgment of ICC proceedings.
Abante, as the chair of the human rights panel, emphasized that the resolutions calling for government cooperation with the ICC probe are grounded in principles such as the rule of law, accountability, and justice for all, rather than being focused on specific personalities.
Abante asserted that cooperating with the ICC, even after the Philippines withdrew from the Rome Statute, signifies a commitment to upholding the rule of law, a fundamental pillar of democracy. He added that this cooperation sends a powerful message that justice applies to all, regardless of socioeconomic status.
Despite the withdrawal from the Rome Statute, Abante argued that collaborating with the ICC for crimes that occurred during membership demonstrates a dedication to global accountability and the prevention of impunity.
IN a hearing at the House of Representatives, Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra said Marcos has the final authority when it comes to the Philippine government’s cooperation with the ICC.
“Your resolutions urge the President to cooperate, but the final say on whether, in fact, the government will cooperate will be with the President,” Guevarra said.
Guevarra emphasized that, legally, the Philippine government is not obligated to cooperate with the ICC.
He pointed out that the court’s Pre-Trial Chamber approved the prosecutor’s request for a preliminary investigation in September 2021, more than two years after the country’s withdrawal from the ICC took effect in March 2019.
“The trigger for the exercise of [ICC] jurisdiction came much too late . . We have no legal duty to cooperate,” he added.
Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Commissioner Fayda M. Dumarpa, on the other hand, emphasized the CHR’s willingness to coordinate with the ICC if their cooperation is deemed necessary.
Dumarpa highlighted the independence of the CHR as a constitutionally created commission for the promotion and protection of human rights.
Meanwhile, the resolution highlights the government’s initial request to the ICC to defer its investigation and subsequent petition to the ICC Appeals Chamber.
HR 1477 said at the outset that the Philippine Constitution declares that “the state values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for human rights.”
Rule of law
ACCORDING to HR 1477, the Philippine government has clearly demonstrated that it “respects the rule of international law and recognizes the proceedings of the ICC,” as evidenced by its initial request to the ICC to defer its investigation as well as its subsequent petition to the ICC Appeals Chamber.
Despite the country’s withdrawal from the Rome Statute, the resolution notes that the ICC’s jurisdiction was affirmed by the Supreme Court. The court ruled that the ICC retains jurisdiction over acts committed by government actors until March 17, 2019. The ICC maintains jurisdiction for alleged crimes that occurred in the Philippines from November 1, 2011, to March 16, 2019, when the country was a party to the Rome Statute.
In light of these developments, the resolution urges relevant government departments to provide full cooperation to the ICC Prosecutor regarding the investigation of any alleged crimes falling within the ICC’s jurisdiction.
The Philippines is the second country, following Burundi in 2017, to withdraw from the ICC.
The ICC has recently announced that it has resumed its investigation into Duterte’s alleged crimes against humanity in connection with the war on drugs.
Image credits: AP/Bullit Marquez
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