Robredo to weigh options on ICC membership if she becomes president

Published July 22, 2021, 4:14 PM

by Raymund Antonio

Even though she hasn’t decided about running as president next year, Vice President Leni Robredo already has an answer about the possibility of rejoining the International Criminal Court (ICC) as a member country.

Vice President Leni Robredo (Jansen Romero/Manila Bulletin)

She’ll have to think if rejoining as a member will benefit the country, she said during a recent interview on ANC’s After the Fact.

“Bakit ba tayo nag-member ng ICC in the first place? Ano iyong dahilan natin kung bakit tayo umalis sa ICC? (Why did we become a member of the ICC in the first place? What is the reason why we withdrew our membership from the ICC?) Kasi I think it will be very important for us, parang to commit ourselves na kung kinakailangan natin maging miyembro talaga ng ICC, kailangan maging committed tayo sa lahat na proseso niya (that if we want to be a member of the ICC, we need to be committed to all of its processes),” Robredo explained.

“So pag-aralan bakit ba tayo (So, we will study why)—in the first place, would that be advantageous to the country moving forward?”

The vice president refused to discuss her plans about rejoining the ICC “in the context of the case against” President Duterte because she wants “to be more comprehensive” about it.

“Para kasi sa akin masyadong, baka masyadong political tapos lumabas pa na vendetta na sasabihin ko na (For me, it might be, it might be too political and it will come off as vendetta if I say that), I will be, you know, I will be very supportive of the ICC kasi gusto kong ipahuli o ipakulong si Presidente (because I want put the President in prison),” Robredo said.

“I don’t think that’s the right way of deciding on the fate of our membership in the ICC,” she added.

READ: Duterte still won’t cooperate with any ICC probe despite SC ruling

The Philippines withdrew its membership from the world’s only permanent war crimes tribunal in March 2018, but it didn’t take effect until a year after when the Supreme Court declined to overrule President Duterte’s decision to leave.

The President said the country has enough mechanisms in place to ensure the justice system is functioning properly when he withdrew from the ICC. This was after the court conducted a preliminary inquiry into the accusations that Duterte and other government officials committed mass murder and crimes against humanity in the name of the country’s bloody anti-drugs campaign, its flagship program to combat illegal drugs in the Philippines.

But on Wednesday, July 21, the High Court said the country is still obliged to cooperate in criminal proceedings of the ICC because the process was already initiated before the withdrawal.

ICC’s retired prosecutor Fatou Bensouda already asked the pre-trial chamber to investigate the killings under the country’s Oplan Tokhang and the killings done by the so-called Davao Death Squad from 2011, the year the country joined the ICC.

Bensouda said there is reason to believe that human rights violations have been committed in the killing of more than 6,000 people in the country’s war on drugs campaign. Human rights groups claimed the numbers can be as high as 12,000.