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Guevarra to clarify with Marcos move to 'disengage' from ICC

Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra on Wednesday said he will confirm the country’s possible disengagement from the International Criminal Court (ICC) with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

This came after Marcos said the Philippines will disengage from any contact and communication with the ICC after its Appeals Chamber rejected the Philippines’ bid to suspend the drug war probe.

“It could mean many things and that’s what I want to clarify with the President himself. Does that mean we will stop communicating and submitting any further pleadings in connection with our appeal?” Guevarra said in an interview on ANC.

“Does that mean if the ICC chamber calls for an oral argument on the appeal, we will not participate anymore? Or does that simply mean no further action? Let’s just await the ruling on the appeal itself,” he added.

Guevarra told GMA News Online Tuesday that the government’s appeal of the decision of the ICC pre-trial chamber authorizing the probe is still pending before the Appeals Chamber after Marcos said the appeal “failed.”

“You know, today I’m sending a memo for the President to explain to him the status of our appeal with the ICC Appeals Chamber and I will have to clarify with him that the appeal itself is still pending,” he said.

According to Guevarra, the ICC denied the country’s request for a suspensive effect while the main appeal is still ongoing.

“Meaning, we’re asking the Court, do not proceed with the investigation while the appeal is pending. Because the investigation itself is the subject matter of the appeal,” he said.

Despite this, Guevarra said Marcos is also right in saying that there is no next move for the Philippines.

“Wala naman tayong iba nang gagawin except to await the resolution of that appeal. There’s nothing more to be done,” he said.

The Solicitor General previously said the denial of the appeal will have "serious and far-reaching" consequences for the Philippines. He also said the country is not legally and morally bound to cooperate with the ICC.

In rejecting the Philippines' appeal, the ICC Appeals Chamber said the government failed to explain the Court's lack of jurisdiction or to provide an explanation of the implications and scope of the investigation.

It also pointed out that the local investigation can proceed even with the ongoing ICC investigation.

However, Guevarra said the country is already looking into the drug war.

“I am telling the people that the government is now investigating those very people who we found to have abused the war on drugs. So I’m just saying that, to the ICC, we’re only doing it. You don’t need to come in, because we’re already doing it,” he said.

He also reiterated that the drug war is not a crime against humanity.  

“In our case, we're saying that the war on drugs does not even fall under any of those four categories. We do not consider the war on drugs as a crime against humanity because it is a legitimate law enforcement operation," he said.

Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said the ICC cannot enter the Philippines to investigate the war on drugs and impose a different rule of law.

The Philippines withdrew from the Rome Statute, which established the ICC, in March 2019, under the leadership of then-President Rodrigo Duterte.

In January, the ICC authorized the reopening of an inquiry into Duterte's drug war, a move that was not welcomed by Philippine authorities and described then by Remulla as an "irritant."—Joahna Lei Casilao/AOL, GMA Integrated News