January 28, 2023
On 26 January 2023, the International Criminal Court (“ICC” or “Court”) announced that it had granted the Prosecutor’s request to resume investigation into the Situation of the Republic of the Philippines (“the Philippines”). The ICC indicated that “following a careful analysis of the materials provided by the Philippines, the Chamber is not satisfied that the Philippines is undertaking relevant investigations that would warrant a deferral of the Court’s investigations”.
Having examined the submissions and materials of the Philippine Government, and of the ICC Prosecutor, as well as the victims’ observations, the Chamber concluded that the various domestic initiatives and proceedings, assessed collectively, do not amount to tangible, concrete and progressive investigative steps in a way that would sufficiently mirror the Court’s investigation.
This conclusion of the ICC mirrors the earlier findings of Investigate PH Commission of Inquiry which found that domestic measures were effectively not functioning, and there was no evidence to support the Philippine government’s contention that victims could find justice in the Philippine courts. The judicial system itself was in fact being wielded as an instrument in the Philippine government’s campaign of state terror.
The ICC decision to continue the pursuit of justice lays bare the Marcos Administration’s culpability in shielding the Duterte regime’s policies of impunity and state terror that killed perhaps 30,000 or more, and victimized Filipinos for six long years. “We are extremely appreciative of the decision of the ICC,” said Peter Murphy, Chairperson of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP). “It offers a mechanism for victims to continue their pursuit of justice against the Duterte Regime’s brutal war on drugs, on dissent and on the Moro and all Indigenous Peoples. Justice will still be served despite the Marcos administration’s decision to keep the Philippines outside the jurisdiction of the ICC and cover-up the crimes against humanity committed by the police and the military under Duterte”.
The new Marcos-Duterte administration functions simply as a continuation of its brutal predecessor. ICHRP believes the prosecution by the ICC may not stop the Marcos-Duterte government from sheltering the perpetrators from prosecution or prevent such crimes from continuing to occur, but it can provide some constraint and a measure of justice to the victims.
ICHRP congratulates the ICC for cutting through the fog of lies and false claims laid out by the Marcos-Duterte government that the Philippine judicial system is functioning and can address any concerns about the President, the regime and the military’s roles in these gross violations of human rights and crimes against humanity.
In November 2022 Justice Secretary Jesus Remulla reported to the United Nations Universal Periodic Review that over 17,000 cases of drug killings involving police officers had been reviewed, resulting in a small number of disciplinary actions. “There is no way that this level of inquiry – most unlikely to be genuine – amounts to an investigation of the crime against humanity of murder which the ICC was investigating,” said Murphy.
“ICHRP has full confidence in the impartiality of the ICC. We urge the ICC to vigorously pursue the full investigation of the previous Duterte administration for these crimes against humanity so that, finally, justice may be served and impunity ended,” Murphy said.
Murphy, an Australian-based human rights advocate, led Investigate PH, a recent three-part investigation by an international commission on the extrajudicial killings, illegal arrests, abductions and disappearances in the Philippines since July 1, 2016, when President Duterte came into power. ###
For comment: Peter Murphy, Chairperson, ICHRP Global Council +61 418 312 301 [email protected]
The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines is a global network of organizations, concerned about the human rights situation in the Philippines and committed to campaigning for just and lasting peace in the country.