Filtered By: Topstories

Lawyer bares ways for ICC to reach witnesses in Philippine drug war probe

The International Criminal Court (ICC) can find ways to reach witnesses if the Philippine government will not cooperate in the investigation into the Duterte administration's bloody war on drugs, according to ICC assistant to counsel Atty. Maria Kristina Conti.

Interviewed on The Mangahas Interviews, Conti said the ICC could fly witnesses to other countries or get their testimonies through online platforms.

Setting up a field office is also a possibility, she said.

"Ang isa ko ring naiisip na puwede nilang i-explore na ginawa nila sa ibang African countries ay ang magtayo ng isang field office," Conti said.

(Among the things I think they can explore is to set up a field office just like what they did in African countries.)

The ICC recently authorized the reopening of the inquiry, saying its pre-trial chamber "is not satisfied that the Philippines is undertaking relevant investigations that would warrant a deferral of the court's investigations."

But Philippine government officials have called on the ICC to respect the country's sovereignty and allow it to conduct its own investigation into the drug war and its high death toll.

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla has called the ICC probe an "irritant," while Presidential Legal Counsel Juan Ponce Enrile said if it were up to him, he would cause the arrest of ICC probers "if they will come here."

Evidence obtained

According to Conti, the ICC has already obtained evidence to pursue its investigation, and that an ICC prosecutor said last year that steps are being undertaken to "preserve" the evidence.

"You can only preserve evidence that is already available," Conti said.

"Kaya sabi namin meron na hinahawakan itong ebidensya either documentary or testimonial [That's why we believe that the ICC has already obtained evidence either documentary or testimonial]."

According to her, the ICC is already working on the prosecutorial process including the possible filing of cases. She said the trial last up to 10 years at most.

"Matagal na para sa ICC ang trial na 10 taon [Ten years would already be long for the ICC]," Conti said, adding the trial may also only take two years.

'Galawang guilty'

Conti also said the response of former President Rodrigo Duterte and former national police chief and now Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa to the ICC probe sounded "defensive."

"Palagay ko nga 'galawang guilty,' yung tipong defensive na agad. Sasabihin nila at sisiraan nila either yung institusyon na nagti-trial sa kanila o kaya yung mga tao na kumakalaban sa kanila," she said.

"That's a defensive move, when you criticize the institution that is probing you or the personalities who are against you.)

Conti also questioned Remulla's statement that there is no need for an ICC probe because the country's courts are functioning. She added that efforts to probe the killings are "too late."

She also pointed out that the ICC may consider the recent developments in the case of Kian delos Santos, a teenage victim of the drug war, after noted forensic pathologist Dr. Raquel Fortun questioned the previous autopsies performed on his body.

"Pero sa ICC puwedeng maging basehan ito kung makikita na pare-pareho ang nangyayari o ginagawa sa lahat ng kaso," Conti said.

(This could be used as basis in the ICC, if there's finding that this was also done in the other cases.)

According to Fortun, she said she was able to retrieve a bullet from Kian's neck even after the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Public Attorney's Office (PAO) already conducted their autopsies on his remains. —KBK, GMA Integrated News