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‘PH not lifting a finger to help ICC investigation’

Vince Lopez & Rey E. Requejo

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said he will not cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC) and even considers it a “threat to our sovereignty,” amid reports that his government allowed its investigators to enter the Philippines to investigate the Duterte administration’s bloody war on drugs.

In a media interview Tuesday, Marcos reiterated that he does not recognize the jurisdiction of ICC in the Philippines. But he said the people working for the organization can come and visit the country as ordinary individuals.

“Let me say this for the 100th time. I do not recognize the jurisdiction of [the] ICC in the Philippines. I do not… I consider it a threat to our sovereignty. The Philippine government will not lift a finger to help any investigation that the ICC conducts,” he told reporters following an event in Quezon City.

“However, as ordinary people, they (ICC) can come and visit the Philippines. But we are not going to help them. In fact, we are monitoring them, making sure that they… do not come into contact with any agency of government,” the President added.

Marcos also instructed law enforcement authorities and government agencies not to cooperate with any representative from the ICC in case they reach out for help in their investigation.

The President issued the latest statement after Senator Ronald delaRosa, one of the respondents in the ICC case, urged him to “be man enough” to declare if the government had let ICC investigators into the country.

Dela Rosa, who was the police chief of former President Rodrigo Duterte, oversaw the drug war in which thousands of drug suspects were killed, many under suspicious circumstances.

Contacted for comment on the President’s statement, the senator reiterated he was standing on Mr. Marcos’ commitment not to cooperate with the international court’s probe.

The Philippines withdrew from the Rome Statute in 2019 during the time of former President Rodrigo Duterte after the ICC said it would investigate him for his war on drugs.

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla earlier said the government will not stop ICC from investigating Duterte, as long as it operates within Philippine laws. “If they’re getting statements, they’re getting evidence. It’s okay… But we have to clarify many issues, especially about procedure,” he said.

Later, reports circulated quoting former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV saying that ICC investigators entered the country in December and managed to gather enough evidence to support a “warrant of arrest” against the former president.

The Department of Justice on Tuesday reiterated that the Philippines has no legal duty to comply with any obligations or proceedings pertaining to matters involving the ICC after it had withdrawn from the United Nations-back tribunal.

“As a sovereign nation with a robust and functional justice system capable of addressing internal issues without external interference, the Philippine government has shown that it is ready, willing, and able to investigate and prosecute any crime committed within its territory,” Remulla said in a statement.

“As such, any presence of international bodies, such as the ICC, within our jurisdiction must be in accordance with our Constitution and relevant laws,” he added.

The Justice Secretary emphasized that prior consent and approval of relevant departments, including the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and the DOJ must be obtained before any foreign entities can conduct official activities in the country.

He also said that as of Tuesday, they were not aware of the entry of any ICC personnel.

Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra, meanwhile, said the victims and their families in the alleged abuses committed during the war on drugs do not need the ICC.

“Our own national institutions are ready to investigate and prosecute all those who have violated the law,” Guevarra, who was Duterte’s Justice secretary, said.

“As the President has repeatedly declared, the ICC has lost jurisdiction and any continuing investigation by the ICC is a threat to the country’s sovereignty,” he added.

With the President’s declaration, Guevarra said “the Philippine government will therefore not lend any assistance to the ICC investigation, much less in the enforcement in Philippine territory of any processes issued by the ICC.”

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