By Martin Sadongdong
The Philippine National Police (PNP) has expressed willingness to cooperate with authorities on the planned investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on President Duterte for his alleged crimes against humanity only if the Philippine government allows them to do so.
This, after the Philippines’ withdrawal from the Rome Statute that created the ICC took effect on March 17, a year after the national government filed a notice before the United Nations (UN).
“We have to understand that the PNP works under the executive department. Any decision on this matter, we have to course through on the executive department,” explained Sr. Supt. Bernard Banac, PNP spokesperson, in a television interview.
“We’ll just have to wait. If something comes up, an investigation, for sure we’ll be directed to cooperate or provide data then we’ll provide the necessary help,” he added.
Despite the Philippines’ withdrawal from the ICC, ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said the Court may still launch a preliminary investigation on Duterte’s alleged crimes which was linked to his bloody war against illegal drugs.
“Pursuant to Article 127.2 of the Statute, and based on prior ICC judicial ruling in the situation in Burundi, the Court retains its jurisdiction over crimes committed during the time in which the State was party to the Statute and may exercise this jurisdiction even after the withdrawal becomes effective,” Bensouda said in a statement posted in her social media account, referring to the authorization of an investigation in Burundi after it left the ICC in 2017.
Duterte is being investigated for his bloody war on drugs, a campaign which seeks to “destroy” illegal drugs in the country.
He used it as his flagship campaign during the 2016 elections and it eventually brought him at the helm of the Philippine presidency in the same year.
From July 2016 to January 31, 2019, the campaign against illegal drugs has since claimed 5,176 lives, according to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), the lead agency of the drug war.
Since the drug war’s launch in mid-2016, the PNP remains as one of its lead implementing agencies.
However, it can be recalled that the PNP was twice kicked out from the operations of the drug war.
First time was in January 2017 when South Korean Jee Ick Joo was killed by anti-narcotics operatives of the PNP who used the war on drugs in the kidnap-for-ransom slay of the executive.
The second one was in October 2017 after police officers were linked to a series of teen killings in Caloocan City, most notable was the death of teenager Kian Lloyd delos Santos.
Meanwhile, the PNP spokesperson expressed confidence that the criminal justice system in the country is working.
“We look on the part of the criminal justice system as working, it is operational,” he said
Earlier, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said there was no need for an ICC investigation as Duterte can be tried in the Philippine courts after he steps down from his post in 2022. (Martin A. Sadongdong)