Remulla denies shielding Rodrigo Duterte from ICC drug war probe
Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla denied he was protecting former President Rodrigo Duterte from the reopened International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation into the former administration’s drug war.
“Wala tayong pinagtatakpan rito," said Remula in The Mangahas Interviews. "Kung meron silang ebidensya gustong i-share sa atin na makakatulong sa imbestigasyon, bakit hindi? Ba’t kinakailangan sila umusig sa kanilang korte? May sarili tayong korte rito eh.”
(We are not covering up for anyone here. If the ICC has evidence they want to share with us that would help in the investigation, why not? Why do they need to try it in their court? We have our own court here.)
“Kung meron silang gustong usigin, ipakita nila ang ebidensya, ibigay nila sa’min ang ebidensya, kami ang uusig kasi kami ang may responsibilidad sa bansa natin,” he added.
(If they want to investigate something, they could provide us with the evidence, and we will investigate because we are responsible for our own country.)
In authorizing the reopening of the investigation, the ICC said it was “not satisfied that the Philippines is undertaking relevant investigations that would warrant a deferral of the court's investigations.”
Remulla had called the reopening unwelcome and an irritant, stressing that he would not stand for any antics that would tend to question the Philippine's sovereignty.
The Justice Secretary also denied coordinating his department's response with Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa.
Dela Rosa served as the chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) when Duterte was elected into office in 2016 and implemented the administration’s drug war Oplan Tokhang.
“Wala akong kinakausap sa kanila. Hindi ko sila kinakausap tungkol sa mga bagay na ‘yan [I don't talk to them about those things]. We are handling the justice system the way it should be handled,” said Remulla.
However, asked if he was discussing the ICC probe with Vice President Sara Duterte, daughter of the ex-President Duterte and Remulla’s political ally during the 2022 elections, Remulla said that he could do so and sees no problem with such a discussion.
“Kung magkakaron ng pagkakataon pag-usapan namin, pagu-usapan namin. Lagi ko naman siyang kasama kapag umaalis ang Pangulo, kami ang executive committee ng Pangulo… Walang problema, pwede kaming mag-usap. Pag-usapan namin ‘to,” he said.
(If we have a chance to talk, we will talk. I am always with her when the President leaves, we are the executive committee of the President... No problem, we can talk. We’ll talk about it.)
The Philippines withdrew from the Rome Statute, which established the ICC, in March 2019 during the Duterte administration. President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., for his part, said that the country had no intention of rejoining the ICC.
In a Super Radyo interview, constitutional law expert and former Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) President Atty. Domingo Cayosa said that since the ICC had assumed jurisdiction, it could continue with its investigation and judgment on possible human rights violations in the country even before the Philippines withdrew from the ICC.
“Sa totoo lang, wala namang kontrol ang Pilipinas o sinumang mga akusado doon sa gagawin ng ICC sapagkat wala namang jurisdiction ang anumang gobyerno sa mundo. It’s an international court. Kung ano ang sa tingin nilang nararapat, according to their mandate ay gagawin nila,” Cayosa said.
(The Philippines or anyone accused has no control over what the ICC will do because no government in the world has jurisdiction. It's an international court. The ICC will do what they think is appropriate, according to their mandate.)
“Sa ating gobyerno, sa ating bansa, hindi magandang pangitain 'yan sapagkat ang premise kasi na kung papasok ang ICC… sa mga panahong 'yun, hindi sufficiently nabibigyan ng atensyon at hustisya ‘yung mga biktima,” he added.
(That is not good for our government or our country because the premise is that if the ICC comes in, it means there was a time when the victims were not sufficiently given attention and justice.)
He added that this may also imply that the country’s prosecutors or judicial system may be either unwilling or unable to prosecute those who were accused of being involved in the alleged extrajudicial killings during the Duterte administration.
Government records showed that at least 6,200 drug suspects were killed in police operations from June 2016 until November 2021.
Several human rights groups claimed the actual death was around 12,000 to 30,000. — Giselle Ombay/DVM, GMA Integrated News