Sen. Ronald dela Rosa shrugged off the lnternational Criminal Court’s looming investigation into the alleged deaths of thousands through extrajudicial killings in the previous administration’s war on drugs.
Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa slammed the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Sunday, Jan. 29, for insisting on investigating the Duterte administration for its bloody campaign against illegal drugs, which he said would intrude into the country’s sovereignty.
Dela Rosa, likely to be among the first to be probed along with former president Rodrigo Duterte by the ICC for alleged crimes against humanity, shrugged off the looming investigation into the alleged deaths of thousands through extrajudicial killings in the previous administration’s war on drugs.
“Who u? Who are you to impose your standards upon us? You tell them that,” Dela Rosa told dzBB in Filipino, referencing a common shortcut in text messages.
He said the move to investigate was an affront to the country’s sovereignty and against the will of Filipinos, who do not want such kind of interference.
“They should not impose their standards on us. We have our own Constitution, our own laws, our own justice system… we are not your subjects,” he said.
The senator stressed that the Philippines already pulled out of the Rome Statute, the treaty that created the ICC, during the Duterte administration.
“We have already withdrawn (from the Rome Statute) and they are still insisting (on the investigation). Are they superior to us? They should learn to respect us,” Dela Rosa said. “Those who want us to return (to the treaty) are those who want me and president Duterte to be hanged – that’s the purpose of those people.”
The previous administration notified the ICC of the country’s withdrawal from the ICC in 2018, which took effect in 2019 after formal requests had been filed before the tribunal to conduct an investigation into the extrajudicial killings.
Dela Rosa was chief implementer of Duterte’s war on drugs or “Oplan Tokhang” when he headed the Philippine National Police.
Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said the government will not welcome any ICC prosecutor into the country, which has a functioning criminal justice system.
The Philippines’ withdrawal from the ICC took effect on March 17, 2019 after its notification was sent to the international tribunal in 2018 on instructions of then president Duterte.
Dela Rosa said he was gratified by the stance of the present government, adding he has yet to speak to Duterte after the ICC gave the go signal to its prosecutors to conduct an investigation.
He admitted he was very much worried before the ICC probe but “it does not matter to me what they do.”
“We can’t stop them from making a table top investigation,” adding the figure of 20,000 killed in the war on drugs with the ICC was erroneous.
He said based on official records, there are some 300,000 drug suspects arrested and under detention all over the country, further congesting jails and belying the allegation that Duterte wanted them killed outright.
Dela Rosa said there are also over 200 policemen killed and nearly a thousand wounded in various encounters with drug suspects.
“It goes to show that there are encounters. We’re not saying all are honest-to-goodness, but they’re being investigated,” he said.
Gov’t must ‘cooperate with ICC’
The Marcos administration needs to forgo its dilatory tactics against the looming investigation of the ICC into the alleged crimes against humanity committed by the Duterte administration’s drug war, a group of litigators said over the weekend.
In a statement, the Center for International Law-Philippines (CenterLaw) said it supports the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber’s decision to clear the way for its prosecutors to resume investigation on the bloody campaign that left thousands dead at the hands of security forces.
“The Center for International Law-Philippines expresses its support to the Pre-Trial Chamber (PTC) decision authorizing the resumption of the Office of the Prosecutor’s investigation in the Situation in the Philippines. Seven years since the drug war was first launched, the PTC decision is a small but welcome step towards justice and accountability long-deserved,” CenterLaw said.
The decision, hinged on the ICC’s belief that the Philippine government’s domestic initiatives to investigate the alleged crimes against humanity fall short of what ICC prosecutors could do to deliver justice to hundreds of families, was met with opposition from Marcos’ top government litigators.
Insisting that the government’s domestic investigative and judicial processes should take precedence, Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra earlier said the government would be elevating the case to the appeals chamber of ICC to stop the resumption of the probe while Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla had said he would not welcome the probe if the government is not accorded “respect.”
“The legal representatives of 293 individuals and 366 families of victims of the war on drugs have expressed their collective call for justice before the International Criminal Court. These pleas have not fallen on deaf ears,” CenterLaw said.
“CenterLaw calls on the Ferdinand Marcos Jr. administration to cease and desist from these dilatory attempts against the ICC investigation. As a member of the international community, and pursuant to Article 127 of the Rome Statute, it is in the interest of not only the victims, but our country, for the Philippine government to cooperate with the ICC’s investigation,” it added.
Phl must submit to ICC’
Meanwhile, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman argued that a probe on Duterte is necessary and essential to achieve justice for the slain victims’ families, and that the “principle of complementarity, which respects the jurisdiction of national courts, cannot be invoked” by the government.
“It is because no less than the alleged principal culprit, former president Duterte, has not been investigated by local authorities nor charged in Philippine courts even as other major reported offenders have eluded justice with impunity,” he insisted.
“The Philippines, as a legitimate member of the world community, must accede to the jurisdiction of the prosecutors of the ICC with respect to Duterte’s bloody war on drugs,” the president of the opposition Liberal Party reiterated.
“The rule of law is not limited to parochial confines. It must conform to the world order,” Lagman continued.
“Perforce, the Philippines must submit to the jurisdiction of ICC’s prosecutors over crimes against humanity consequent to the brutal anti-narcotics campaign which were committed prior to the withdrawal of the Philippines from the Rome Statute in March 2018,” he said.
Other members of the opposition, most particularly the militant Makabayan bloc, have also pushed for the inclusion of the Philippines in the ICC, urging the Marcos administration to “authorize the reopening of an inquiry into the fake drug war killings.”
“It is imperative that those responsible for these crimes are held accountable for their actions and it would be best that President Marcos Jr. return to the ICC,” Rep. France Castro of party-list ACT Teachers said.
“I think that the ICC investigation should be seen as supplementary to the shortcomings of the Philippine justice system and should not be seen as an intrusion or meddling in our affairs,” she added.
Rep. Arlene Brosas of women’s group Gabriela concurred with Lagman and Castro, and said, “Human rights organizations must amplify the people’s calls to let the ICC conduct its probe, and bring justice to thousands of poor Filipinos who were victims of Oplan Tokhang.”
“We support the International Criminal Court’s move to resume the probe into former president Duterte’s war on drugs. Moreover, if the Philippine government has nothing to hide, it must let the ICC conduct an investigation,” she said.
“We remain firm in our stand that the government has no basis to appeal – local investigations are not enough. The ICC has every reason to resume its investigation with the overwhelming number of evidence and statements from the victims’ families,” Brosas said.
“We call on the Philippine National Police to defer its move to revamp and push involved PNP officers to retire. They must testify in the ICC probe and be held accountable for their crimes against the Filipino people,” she added. – With Neil Jayson Servallos, Delon Porcalla
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