President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. on Monday thumbed down proposals for the country to rejoin the International Criminal Court (ICC).
"The Philippines has no intention of rejoining the ICC," said Marcos following an event in Pasig City.
Marcos made the statement a week after he discussed with members of his administration's legal team the ICC's investigation on the Duterte's administration's deadly war on drugs.
Present during the meeting were Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla, Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Juan Ponce Enrile, Executive Secretary Vic Rodriguez, and Atty. Harry Roque, former spokesperson for former President Rodrigo Duterte.
The meeting happened more than a week after The Hague-based ICC "invited" the Philippines to provide observations on the ICC prosecutor's request to reopen the investigation into the killings attributed to the war on drugs.
"The meeting that we had with the SolGen, the Secretary of the Department of Justice, kasama na rin diyan si Senator Enrile who has become my legal adviser, amongst other, we — yes also si Atty. Harry Roque because he is involved and recognized by the ICC — ang mineeting (meeting) namin ay dahil sinasabi ngayon na itutuloy ang imbestigasyon (our meeting was done because of the call to reopen the investigation)," Marcos said.
"Eh sinasabi naman namin may imbestigasyon naman dito at patuloy rin naman ang imbestigasyon, bakit magkakaroon ng ganoon?" he added.
(We have our own investigation in the Philippines, why there's a need to reopen the ICC probe?)
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.
Marcos said the meeting was done to determine the country's response to the ICC, if ever the government will heed the international body's call for the Philippines to provide observations on the request to reopen the probe.
"If we will respond, if we will not respond, kung ano — kung sakali man sasagot tayo, anong magiging sagot natin; or possible din, basta hindi natin papansinin dahil hindi naman tayo sumasailalim sa kanila," Marcos said.
(If we will respond, what our answers will be, and it's also possible that we will not respond because we are not under their jurisdiction.)
"Pero the ICC is a very different kind of a court kaya’t pinag-aralan muna. Sinabi ko pag-aralin niyo munang mabuti ‘yung procedure para tama ‘yung gagawin natin. Kasi hindi natin siyempre kailangan — baka ma-misinterpret ‘yung ating mga ginagawa. Kaya’t liwanagin natin kung ano ba talaga ang dapat gawin, sinong susulat kanino, anong ilalagay sa sulat," he added.
(I told them to study this carefully so we can respond properly and so we will not be misinterpreted. We should clarify what we should really do regarding this issue.)
In a Viber message to reporters, Senate Minority Leader Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, said he disagrees with Marcos' decision but this should be followed.
"President Marcos is the decision maker on if and/or when to join an int’l organization or treaty. I disagree with his decision BUT since he is the President it is his decision which will be followed," Pimentel said.
Pimentel earlier said Marcos should pursue the Philippines' reapplication as a member of the ICC to provide Filipinos a "court of last resort" in case of abuse and human rights violations.
Senator Risa Hontiveros lamented the president's decision but expressed hope that the government will not block the investigations into the alleged violations committed before the Philippines withdrew its membership from the ICC.
"Bakit tila may pag-aalinlangan yata? It is the prerogative of the president, though it is regrettable as the Rome Statute is the collective commitment of the community of nations against state sponsored impunity," she said in a statement.
"I hope he will not undermine or block investigations of acts or violations that took place before the Philippines withdrew from the ICC," she added.
Hontiveros stated that the ICC is mandated to look into these crimes and the government should fear nothing if it is not hiding anything.
"Kung wala namang itinatago, dapat hindi matakot ang sinuman sa imbestigasyong ito," she said.—With Hana Bordey/KBK/LDF, GMA News