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Amid issue with ICC, Marcos says PH to continue bilateral, global engagements

The Philippines will continue to engage with countries and international platforms when it comes to democracy and human rights as long as the engagements are constructive and respectful of its sovereignty, according to President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.

In a video message during the plenary session of the Second Session for Summit for Democracy on Wednesday, Marcos said the Philippines would continue to be an active player in global and bilateral dialogues as long as they protect the country's interests.

"The Philippines will continue to engage countries bilaterally and in international platforms on issues concerning democracy, human rights, and good governance, as long as these engagements are constructive, based on facts, and respectful of Philippine sovereignty,” Marcos said.

"The Philippines will sustain its tradition of open, constructive, and active engagement on human rights on matters that will meaningfully contribute towards reinforcing the sinews of democracy and of freedom," he added.

"Thus, we enable our people to flourish and meet our national aspirations to be a modern prosperous middle-income society by 2040."

Amid the possibility of an International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation on the Duterte administration's war on drugs, Marcos stressed that the rule of law continues to prevail in the Philippines, and that its criminal justice system is fully functioning.

"We continue to improve mechanisms such as the AO35 inter-agency committee to enhance accountability. The Philippines’ commitment to fight impunity for atrocity crimes is solid and unwavering, notwithstanding the withdrawal of the country from the Rome Statute," he said, referring to the statute that established the ICC.

"The Philippines has a national legislation punishing heinous crimes. We have vigorously exercised our jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute crimes, including those allegedly committed in the context of the anti-illegal drugs campaign."

He said his administration has already rolled out measures which aims to achieve objectives for people-centered growth and prosperity. These include consolidating reforms in the judicial system, noting that economic recovery and progress can only take place through transparent, effective and responsible institutions.

“We are investing more to enhance the administration of justice through the various institutions and mechanisms already in place to protect the right to life, liberty and security of the Filipino people,” Marcos said.

According to Marcos, his administration's thrust is also centered towards "encouraging participative governance that adopts new ways and innovative solutions by fostering the spirit of unity, dialogue, and citizen empowerment."

He said the government has also strengthened accountability mechanisms and policies to protect women and children as he acknowledged that real justice means "humane treatment" of persons deprived of liberty and efficient prosecution of criminal cases.

Further, the Marcos administration has also focused on pouring resources and energy into improving the processes in the investigation of cases and the witness protection program.

When it comes to the campaign against illegal drugs, Marcos said the government has focused on rehabilitation, prevention, education and assistance to drug victims and their families as well as ensuring transparency and accountability on law enforcement operations.

Marcos, meanwhile, expressed gratitude to United States President Joe Biden and the US government for convening the Second Summit for Democracy, along with co-host countries Costa Rica, South Korea, The Netherlands, and Zambia.

Marcos said the Summit “affirms the solidarity of nations bound by values of democracy and sends a powerful message of our collective will to bring about the best of peoples and societies empowered by freedom.”

Biden earlier announced new funding to bolster democracies around the world as well as to help fight corruption, support free and fair elections, and advance technologies that support democratic governments.

The Philippines backed the Summit for Democracy Declaration but disassociates itself from any reference to the ICC. —KBK, GMA Integrated News