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ICC calls on Philippine gov’t to comment on reopening of drug war probe


The Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) has "invited" the Philippines to provide observations on its request to reopen the investigation into the Duterte administration's deadly anti-drugs campaign.

In an order dated July 14, the ICC gave the Philippines until September 8, 2022 to provide any observations on the planned reopening of the probe.

The ICC then instructed its prosecutor—represented by Karim A. A. Khan and Colin Black—to submit any response to the observations of the Philippines by September 22, 2022.

It also instructed the Victims Participation and Reparations Section (VPRS) to coordinate with victims and their legal representatives, and collect their views by September 8, 2022.

The VPRS was then instructed to submit all views and concerns it received to the Chamber by September 22, 2022 at the latest.

This comes as ICC Chief Prosecutor Khan requested to resume the investigation into the war on drugs that was carried out under the leadership of then-President Rodrigo Duterte.

In its request, the prosecutor said the Philippine government was unable to demonstrate that it investigated or was looking into nationals or others connected with the series of killings linked to the drug war.

Government records indicate that over 6,000 supposed drug suspects have been killed in police operations since Duterte assumed office on June 30, 2016.

Several human rights groups, however, estimate that the actual death toll could be between 12,000 to 30,000.

The ICC's Office of the Prosecutor suspended its investigation in November 2021, in response to the Philippine government's request to defer the investigation.

The suspension was made two months after the the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber approved the prosecutor’s request to look into crimes “allegedly committed on the territory of the Philippines” from November 1, 2011 and March 16, 2019 in the context of the “war on drugs’ campaign.’

Duterte in 2019 also ordered a halt to all negotiations and agreements with 18 countries which earlier approved a resolution to compile a comprehensive report on the war on drugs.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) in October last year published a review of 52 drug war cases, indicating that several suspects killed after supposedly making the first shot at police officers eventually tested negative for gunpowder residue.

Then-Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra also said that mismatch in death certificates of victims—as reported by Reuters—were part of the justice department’s review on the matter.

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For its part, Malacañang—which was still then led by Duterte—said it was "exasperated" with the ICC Prosecutor’s request for the resumption of the investigation into the war on drugs.

“Amid our hugely successful anti-illegal drug campaign that saw a massive dip in crime incidences attributed to drug abuse, the Duterte administration has undertaken, through the Department of Justice, in partnership with the Philippine National Police, among others, investigations of all deaths that have arisen from lawful drug enforcement operations," then-Acting Presidential Spokesperson Martin Andanar said in June.

The current administration led by President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has yet to comment on the matter. He campaigned with Duterte’s daughter Sara Duterte-Carpio as his running mate. She is now Vice President. — BM, GMA News

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