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SolGen to ICC Don’t rush drug probes

Philippine Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra said that the International Criminal Court (ICC) wants the government to prosecute suspects involved in the killing of thousands of alleged drug offenders during the Duterte administration’s so-called drug war.

The ICC has been told to resume its investigation into the drug war killings, Guevarra told One News’ “The Chiefs” on Thursday night.

In our appeal, we emphasized that we are conducting our own investigation according to procedure. In Filipino, Guevarra said, “The ICC is pushing us to file cases in court for trial”.

We don’t work that way here. Because we are providing respondent police officers with due process, we must conduct fact-finding and investigations.” Guevarra said.

They noted that 12 cases of extrajudicial killings have already been filed before Philippine courts or prosecutor’s offices, rejecting the findings of the ICC pretrial chamber that domestic investigations on the drug killings were unsatisfactory.

Therefore, we will reach a conclusion. It is important not to rush this process. Putting the cart before the horse is not a good idea. Our own processes must be followed,” Guevarra said.

However, Romel Bagares, an international law expert, said the courts only dealt with cases involving patrolmen and other low-level police officers, not the generals or president.

A Caloocan trial court and a Navotas court convicted four dismissed Caloocan police officers for killing, torturing, and planting evidence against Kian delos Santos, Carl Angelo Arnaiz, and Reynaldo de Guzman at home, Bagares contends, but this is just a drop in the bucket.

The International Criminal Court is designed to prosecute the most responsible individuals. Not the patrolmen, not the sergeants. It’s going to be the brains who “The ICC is intended to try those who are most responsible in the Philippines? Convictions of low-level foot soldiers will not hold,” Bagares told The STAR yesterday. While admitting 

Philippines drug war probed by ICC

Duterte’s off-the-cuff remarks order police to kill drug suspects, Guevarra said, were a part of Duterte’s “colorful language.”

Guevarra was asked about the implications of the Supreme Court’s 2021 decision “Pangilinan v Cayetano,” which held that, despite the withdrawal of the Duterte administration from the ICC, he and his officials might still be prosecuted by the tribunal for crimes committed before the withdrawal.

It has been four years since the Philippines withdrew from the Rome Statute that established the Hague Tribunal.

It is not discharged from any criminal proceedings even if it has deposited the withdrawal instrument. The SC stated in its ruling that any process initiated before the International Criminal Court requires the state party to cooperate.

This was merely an obiter dictum, he said, not a substantive part of the ruling.

There is nothing doctrinal about that. The Supreme Court only mentioned an obiter dictum as part of its discussion of the issue. In that particular case, however, that isn’t the main issue. Guevarra said there is no contradiction.

It is, however, Bagares’ belief that Pangilinan v Cayetano would prove key to the ICC case since it is the first decision anywhere else in the world that states that the duty to cooperate does not begin when there is an ICC preliminary examination – it already begins there.

International tribunals often focus on obiter dicta from domestic cases. That case will be taken into account by the ICC appeals chamber, and I am sure it will be taken into account in its decision.”

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