PH 'unlikely' to rejoin ICC – Remulla

3:53 pm on 21 November 2022, Monday

By Raheema Velasco

After attending Universal Periodic Review (UPR) organized by United Nations Human Rights Council, Department of Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said that it is unlikely for the Philippines to rejoin the International Criminal Court (ICC) as we have a functional government.

"As far as we are concerned, we are not Sudan, we are not an African country in trouble that has no government running the show," Remulla said. 

Incumbent President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos also said earlier that the country has "no intention of rejoining the ICC."

"We are saying there is already an investigation here and the investigation is continuing. Why will there be such?" Marcos said.

Remulla also reiterated that alleged extra-judicial killings are not state-sponsored and Philippines has "vibrant democracy" where freedom of expression – including the right to dissent – is protected.

"There is no state policy to attack, harass or intimidate human rights defenders, including environmental rights defenders, lawyers and other practitioners of the legal profession, and the media," he added.

UPR is a unique process which involves a periodic review of the human rights records of all 193 UN Member States. 

Meanwhile, ICC is a court that investigates and, where warranted, tries individuals charged with the gravest crimes of concern to the international community such as: genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of aggression.

At the peak of the drug crackdown in 2019, the Philippines withdrew from the Rome Statute — the treaty establishing the ICC, as it has pledged to pursue its review into the possible crimes in the government's deadly drug war.

"I have determined that there is a reasonable basis to believe that the crime against humanity of murder has been committed on the territory of the Philippines between 1 July 2016 and 16 March 2019 in the context of the Government of Philippines' war on drugs' campaign," then ICC prosecutor Fataou Bensouda statement read.

'No jurisdiction'

Last September, Remulla claimed that ICC does not have jurisdiction over the alleged extra-judicial killings under former president Rodrigo Duterte.

The justice secretary also said that they would submit – at the government's own pace – its comment to the ICC as a matter of respect, not compliance.

"And we submitted all of these things to the ICC, out of comity of the principle of comity and nothing more, nothing less. We are not there complying with anything because we are not a member of the ICC anymore," Remulla said.

In contrast, Bensouda stressed that despite the Philippines' withdrawal in 2019, ICC retains jurisdiction over crimes that are alleged to have occurred on the territory of that State during the period when it was a State Party to the Rome Statute.

Meaning ICC still has the power to investigate several concurrent situations in the Philippines that happened from Aug 30, 2011, up to the country's disengagement on March 17, 2019 (covering the start of Duterte's war on drugs campaign in 2016.)


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