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ICC prosecutor opposes Philippines’ call not to resume drug war probe

The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has opposed the request of the Philippine government to not resume the investigation into former President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

In its submission to the ICC, the Marcos administration said the tribunal lacks jurisdiction, the alleged crimes are insufficiently grave to warrant further action, and the government has investigated and prosecuted the alleged crimes or is currently doing so.

“[T]he Prosecution respectfully submits that none of those arguments have merit,” ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan said in his response.

Khan also reiterated his request that the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber order the resumption of the investigation.

“[T]he GovPH (Philippine government) has not demonstrated – even with its additional submissions – that it has conducted or is conducting national investigations or prosecutions that sufficiently mirror the investigation authorized by the Chamber,” he said.

“The GovPH argues that its criminal justice system generally functions well and that certain administrative and other mechanisms may or can result in criminal proceedings. However, nothing in the observations nor in the hundreds of pages of associated annexes substantiates that criminal proceedings actually have been or are being conducted in anything more than a small number of cases.”

While the Philippine government has provided updates on a “small number” of criminal proceedings, the substantiated cases remain “very few in number compared to the total number of alleged killings, focused overwhelmingly on low-ranking police officers and physical perpetrators, with no apparent investigation of higher-level perpetrators, and framed in terms of ‘isolated instances’ without inquiry into larger patterns of conduct or underlying policy,” the prosecutor added.

GMA News Online has sought comment from Malacañang and the Department of Justice.

Last year, the ICC authorized a full investigation into the drug war, saying it appeared to be an illegitimate and systematic attack on civilians.

Duterte pulled the Philippines out of the Hague-based tribunal's Rome Statute in 2018, with the withdrawal taking effect in 2019, after it began a preliminary examination of the allegations of abuse in the course of the anti-narcotics campaign.

His successor President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. has ruled out rejoining. — VBL, GMA News