ICC still has jurisdiction over PH to probe ‘crimes committed until March 17,2019’


The International Criminal Court (ICC) still has jurisdiction over the Philippines to investigate alleged crimes committed until March 17, 2019 during the anti-illegal drugs war of the administration of former President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

In a statement, the Center for International Law Manila (CenterLaw) pointed out ICC’s retained jurisdiction after President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. announced that the Philippines will not rejoin the ICC.

CenterLaw said that “though the Philippines withdrew from the Rome Statute effective 17 March 2019, the ICC retains jurisdiction over killings already committed.”

“The non-retroactive effect of withdrawal is provided for in Article 127 of the Rome Statute, and has been recognized by no less than the Philippine Supreme Court (SC),” it said.

Citing the ruling in the case docketed as Sen. Pangilinan v. Cayetano, CenterLaw said the SC ruled that the ICC “retains jurisdiction over any and all acts committed by government until March 17, 2019, and hence, withdrawal from the Rome Statute does not affect the liabilities of individuals charged before the ICC for acts committed up to this date.”

It said that under Article 127 of the Rome Statute, “withdrawal shall not affect any cooperation with the in connection with criminal investigations and proceedings in relation to which the withdrawing State had a duty to cooperate.”

Thus, it said, despite the withdrawal from the Rome Statute, the Philippines “still has the duty to cooperate with the ICC.”

Last June 24, ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan proposed before the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber the resumption of the investigation of alleged crimes committed during the drugs war of former President Duterte.

ICC then issued a request to the Philippine government dated last July 14 to comment on the proposal made by the prosecutor.

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin C. Remulla had assured that the Philippines will submit its comment before the ICC on or before the Sept. 8, 2022 deadline set by the tribunal.

“Compliance is not the term. We will furnish them the available information as a matter of comity,” Remulla said.

Solicitor General Menardo I. Guevarra had backed up the decision of President Marcos Jr. against rejoining the ICC.

“As chief architect of our foreign policy, it is PBBM’s (President Marcos Jr.) prerogative to determine what international organizations our country may join,” Guevarra, the government’s chief lawyer, said.

“I suppose the President’s primary consideration is always in the best interests of our country, with utmost regard for our national sovereignty,” he added.