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Pimentel: Marcos should pursue Philippines' reapplication to ICC

President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. should pursue the Philippines' reapplication as a member of the International Criminal Court to provide Filipinos a "court of last resort" in case of abuse and human rights violations, Senate Minority Leader Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III said Friday.

The lawmaker made the statement after Marcos met with Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra and other officials to discuss the administration's stand to reopen the probe into the Duterte government's drug war.

"Yes, the administration, the President being the chief architect of foreign policy, he should, I suggest that he reapplies for membership of the Philippines in the ICC," Pimentel said in an ANC interview.

"Court of last resort kasi ito. So that, you know, if there is all of a sudden abuse occurring here in the Philippines, affecting life, liberty, human rights, maybe even property and Filipinos could no longer run to the government or the courts, then we have a court of last resort na matakbuhan (where we can run to)," he added.

According to the Senate minority chief, the government should fear nothing as the Filipino people would not elect a leader who will put their human rights at risk.

"Let us make this remedy available to our people. At any rate, hindi naman tayo ganon e. Wala naman sigurong ihahalal ang taumbayan, ilalagay sa pinakamakapangyarihan na pwesto sa gobyerno para lang i-abuse sila o gipitin sila o abusuhin sila," he said.

(At any rate, we are not like that. The Filipino people will not elect or put someone to the highest position just to allow for him or her to abuse them.)

"Now, the culture tells us that we should not be producing such a leader so there's nothing to fear in the membership with the ICC," he added.

In case Marcos decides not to seek Philippine membership to the ICC, Pimentel said other states that seek prosecution against great crimes against humanities will be disappointed.

"They will be disappointed with the Republic of the Philippines. Magtataka din siguro sila. 'Bakit kaya?' So I mean there is no reason not to rejoin the ICC," he said.

So far, Pimentel said he is not sensing that the Marcos administration is protecting former President Rodrigo Duterte from the ICC but he will wait for further pronouncement regarding the issue.

The senator also tagged as a "good start" the statements of Justice Secretary Jesus Crisipin "Boying" Remulla, saying the Philippine government will provide the reports if the ICC will request it.

"We should cooperate if we [want] to be treated as a responsible member of the international community. We have to comply with our treaty obligations," Pimentel said.

In March 2019, the Philippines officially withdrew from the ICC after the body launched a preliminary examination of Duterte's controversial campaign against illegal drugs, which has been linked to thousands of alleged extrajudicial killings in the country.

On Thursday, the Department of Foreign Affairs said it is consulting with government lawyers on the issue of allowing the ICC investigators to look into the alleged drug killings under the Duterte administration.

Recently, 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.—AOL, GMA News