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Remulla: ICC talk with EU MPs lasted less than three minutes

The International Criminal Court, which recently reopened an inquiry into the Duterte administration’s war on drugs, didn't figure much in Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla's meeting with members of the European Parliament's subcommittee on human rights.

In an ambush interview following the hour-long meeting, Remulla said discussions on the ICC did not last three minutes.

Remulla said the topic of the ICC was only brought up after members of the EU parliament delegation asked him how the Philippines planned to address the ICC in the wake of its investigation.

“Ayun lang, aside lang yun, eh. Sandali lang yun, eh. Hindi tumagal ng tatlong minuto 'yun. Wala, wala. Hindi masyado,” Remulla said.

“Tinanong lang ako. Paano yung ICC? Sabi ko, kung may problema talaga sila sa Pilipinas, kaya naming gawin ‘yan. We can finish these cases. We don’t need that sabi ko,” he said.

The EU MPs on Wednesday met members of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, chaired by Senator Francis Tolentino.

There was said to have been “constructive and fruitful” discussions on human rights issues including the ICC between the senators and the MPs.

Remulla said the members did not react to his remark because they may have known that the government was “in command here.”

“They can feel it that we are in command of our resources here, our human resources, and that the programs that we have are geared towards solving the problems of our judicial system and system of justice itself,” Remulla said.

Authorities, including Remulla, have repeatedly said that the ICC had no jurisdiction in the Philippines after the country’s withdrew in March 2019 from the Rome Statute, which established the ICC.

Article 127 of the Rome Statute states that “[a] State shall not be discharged, because of its withdrawal, from the obligations arising from this Statute while it was a Party to the Statute.”

The Philippine government has submitted a notice of appeal to the ICC Appeals Chamber, saying it disagreed and rejected the conclusions of the Pre-Trial Chamber when it authorized the reopening.

According to Remulla, he and the parliament members had mostly discussed reforms being sought by the Philippines.

“Ang karamihan nito about judicial reform, correction reform, corrections sa ating reforms on prosecution, reforms on bail, lahat ng ginagawa nating improvement,” Remulla said.

“Parang nagugulat sila kaya hindi na pumasok para mag argue kami. Hindi sila argumentative actually,” he added.

Fake news

Remulla said the EU parliament members also expressed their concern about fake news in the country.

“Ang sabi ko we don’t want to weaponize cyberlibel o yung mga ganoong mga bagay. Ayaw namin maging correction agency ang DOJ. Hindi natin papayagan na maging weapon tayo ng mga tao,” he said.

Remulla said that he would also prefer not to go after cyber libel cases.

“Kaya lang batas yan eh. It has to be, ano, it has to be— legal reform yan eh para magbago,” he said.



De Lima

Remulla said the case of former detained Senator Leila De Lima was also brought up during the meeting.

Before the courtesy call with Remulla, the parliament members had visited De Lima at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center.

De Lima will be marking her sixth year in detention on February 24.

“Ang sabi ko, yung kagaya ng sinabi ko dati, probably habeas corpus might be the remedy kasi yung bail nila dati nag fail na, na dismiss na yung dating bail petition,” Remula said.

“And then sinabi ko naman that we already offered to back channel before but there was no response. So we’re hoping na matapos na yan,” he added.

Remulla had previously said that he personally would not object to a possible bail plea from the camp of De Lima after urging them to file a petition for habeas corpus.

‘Cross fingers’

Though the EU parliament members declined an interview with the media, a member of the delegation told reporters to “crossfingers for your country” as he was leaving.

According to the DOJ, the EU delegates consisted of Isabel Wiseler-Lima of the Group of the European People's Party, Karsten Lucke of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists & Democrats, Hannah Neumann of The Greens and the European Free Alliance, Ryszard Czarnecki of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, and Miguel Urban Crespo of The Left in the European Parliament.

Also present were Anna Ksiazczakova of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists & Democrats, Raphael Fisera of The Greens and the European Free Alliance, Federico Martegani of the Identity and Democracy, Jo Anna Rejdych of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, and Ana Vicente Moreno of The Left in the European Parliament.

The EU parliament members are set to leave the country on Friday.

Meanwhile, Remulla said he will also depart the Philippines to visit Geneva, Switzerland on February 27, Monday until March 7, Tuesday.

“I’m going to Geneva sa Monday to speak about prison reform, mainly prison reform,” he said. —NB, GMA Integrated News