CHR hopes 'domestic remedies' to work on ‘human rights cases’ before ICC steps in

Published June 17, 2021, 2:32 PM

by Czarina Nicole Ong Ki


The Philippine government should tackle and resolve the reported human rights violations in its illegal drugs operations before an international body like the International Criminal Court (ICC) steps in, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said on Thursday, June 17.

Through Spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia, the CHR expressed hopes that “domestic remedies” will kick into action before the ICC officially begins its probe.

De Guia, in a radio program over DZMM, said there is still a chance for the Philippine government to change its course and take accountability for the reported violations in its illegal drugs campaign.

“May pagkakataon pa para sa pamahalaan na ipakita sa international community, kasama na ang ICC, na pupwede pa rin gumana ang justice system natin dito sa Pilipinas kasi at this point humihinge pa lang ang ICC Prosecutor ng approval sa Pre-Trial Chamber (There is still an opportunity for the government to show the international community, including the ICC, that our justice system can still work here in the Philippines because at this point the ICC Prosecutor is still asking for approval from the Pre-Trial Chamber),” she said.

“Sana gumana yung domestic remedies natin para makamit din ng mga biktima yung hustisya sa mas mabilis na panahon. At the same time, ma-avail natin yung opportunity na hindi na kailangan pang pumasok yung mga ganitong mekanismo, kasi kaya naman natin siguruhin na may papanagutan dito sa bansa, (I hope our domestic remedies work so that the victims can also get justice faster. At the same time, we can avail ourselves of the opportunity that such mechanisms do not need to be used, because we can ensure that there is accountability here in the country),” she added.

In 2020, the ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor led by Fatou Bensouda reported there is “reasonable basis to believe” that crimes against humanity were committed while the government was carrying out its war against drugs. These crimes include murder, torture, and infliction of serious physical injury and mental harm, here report stated.

Last week, the ICC decided to move the case forward to preliminary investigation – a development that generated a “good luck” response from Malacañang.

“Well, good luck! Because on the basis of the preliminary examination report, they need primary evidence and, on court — whether be it international, domestic — will require a primary document and primary evidence; not the kind of evidence relied upon by Bensouda, unfortunately,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said last June 16.

Roque added that President Duterte will let the ICC “do what they want” with the case while at the same time exercise “Philippine sovereignty and independence from foreign interference.”

Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra had said that any probe that may be done by ICC will not affect the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) review of illegal drugs operations where deaths occurred.

The Philippine National Police and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency had turned over to the DOJ for review records of their drug operations that resulted in deaths to suspect.