CHR urges PH to allow ICC’s investigation

Commission on Human Rights (CHR)

While the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) noted the efforts of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to improve human rights situation in the country, it urged the government to participate in the investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on killings during illegal drugs operations of the past administration.

“The ICC investigation is an opportune occasion for the present government to take the right track in upholding its human rights obligations, especially for those wronged and violated,” the CHR said in a statement.

In its announcement last Thursday, Jan. 26, the ICC said the “Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (ICC-PTC) granted the Prosecutor's request to resume investigation into the Situation of the Republic of the Philippines.”

Set for investigation are the killings during the illegal drugs operations conducted from Nov. 1, 2011 to March 16, 2019.

The Philippines’ withdrawal from the ICC took effect on March 17, 2019 after its notification was sent to the international tribunal in 2018 on instructions of then President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

The ICC-PTC on Sept. 15, 2021 granted the request authorization of the ICC Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) “to initiate an investigation into crimes allegedly committed on the territory of the Philippines between 1 November 2011 and 16 March 2019 in the context of the Government of the Philippines' ‘war on drugs’ campaign.”

The probe was deferred in November 2021 on request of the Philippine government.

The OTP on June 24, 2022 requested the chamber to resume the investigation. ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan sought the resumption of the investigation as he claimed that the Philippines under President Marcos Jr. had not provide evidence it was carrying out thorough inquiries.

The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) submitted on Sept. 8, 2022 its Observation on the Request of the OTP to Resume Investigation in the Republic of the Philippines.

Solicitor General Menardo I. Guevarra, the government’s chief lawyer as head of OSG, said the Philippine government is set to appeal the ICC’s decision.

Guevarra said that while the Philippine government has not received an official copy of the ICC ruling, “it is our intention to exhaust our legal remedies, more particularly elevating the matter to the ICC appeals chamber.”

“We wish to emphasize that our own domestic investigative and judicial processes should take precedence, and we can show that despite structural and resource limitations in our legal system, it is still a well-functioning system that yields positive results in its own time,” he pointed out.

However, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin "Boying" Remulla said he will not welcome the ICC to the Philippines to conduct an investigation.

“Definitely I do not welcome this move of theirs and I will not welcome them to the Philippines unless they make clear that they will respect us in this regard,” Remulla said.

“I will not stand for any of these antics that will tend to question our sovereignty or our status as a sovereign country. We will not accept that,” he said.

“I think the world knows that we are a functioning country with a functioning judicial system. This is an irritant that just came in,” he added.

In its statement, the CHR also said:

“In the interest of justice and accountability, CHR urges the Government of the Philippines to view the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber decision as an opportunity to fulfil President Ferdinand Marcos Jr’s earlier commitment in ensuring a ‘high-level of accountability’ for human issues and violations during his term.

“Let this development be a chance for the Philippines to demonstrate openness and transparency as part of the fraternity of nations that values human rights and the rule of law.

“As the independent national human rights institution of the Philippines, CHR extends its openness and willingness to assist the present administration in upholding the rights and dignity of all.

“We have since shared CHR’s recommendations and ways forward to the Philippine government through our 2022 CHR Report on Investigated Killings in relation to the Anti-Illegal Drug Campaign.

“CHR acknowledges that there are present efforts being done by the current administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr in improving the human rights situation in the country.”

TAGS: #CHR #ICC #Human rights #Killings during illegal drugs operations