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Philippines' justice chief says ICC drug war probe ‘not welcome, an irritant’

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla described the International Criminal Court's (ICC's) decision to authorize the reopening of an inquiry into the Duterte Administration’s drug war as unwelcome and an irritant.

“I think that the world knows that we are a functioning country with a functioning judicial system,” Remulla said in a press briefing when asked if this would affect the move of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to build ties with the international community.

“This is an irritant that just came in. It’s what we call an irritant,” he added. "Definitely, I do not welcome this move of theirs. And I will not welcome them to the Philippines unless they make it clear that they will respect us in this regard."

Remulla also said that he would not stand for any antics that would tend to question the Philippine's sovereignty, status as a sovereign country.

According to Remulla, though the government was open to holding a dialogue and sharing data with the ICC, it would not be imposed upon.

He said he would discuss the government’s next action with Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra, who earlier said that the country would appeal the resumption of the inquiry before the ICC Appeals Chamber.

Remulla, meanwhile, said he has not yet talked to Marcos about the matter.

Asked if authorities were willing to cooperate should the ICC issue arrest warrants, Remulla said the ICC would have no such authority.

“They will have no compulsory process in the country. They will not even be empowered to issue subpoenas in the country,” Remulla said.

According to Remulla, the government is also building up its capacity to investigate cases further.

He said the Philippines is “a country that is trying its best to cope with the demands of the times.”

Remulla also called on the ICC to share with the government patterns it wants investigators to look into.

“But they cannot subsume upon, they cannot assume jurisdiction in this country without our allowing them to do that,” he said.

In a statement released Thursday, the ICC said its pre-trial chamber "is not satisfied that the Philippines is undertaking relevant investigations that would warrant a deferral of the court's investigations.”

The Philippines withdrew from the Rome Statute, which established the ICC, in March 2019 during the Duterte administration.

Marcos, for his part, said that the country had “no intention” of rejoining the ICC. — DVM, GMA Integrated News