For the Philippine authorities, the work of the court would constitute an infringement of sovereignty and would have no legal basis. Human Rights Watch warns of the difficulties in carrying out investigations successfully. The current president Ferdinand Marcos Jr. ratified his position against any foreign intervention in the matter.
Manila () – The tussle between the Philippine authorities and the International Criminal Court continues over the proceedings opened due to the homicides committed between May 2016 and September 2017. This was the most acute phase of the “war against drugs” implemented by former President Rodrigo Duterte with the stated objective of eradicating drug trafficking and consumption.
The dimension and characteristics of the anti-drug campaign led the ICC prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, to open a preliminary investigation in 2018, which led to a first green light from the judges in September 2021.
However, on March 13, the Manila government asked the court to annul its decision of January 26 of that year to reopen the investigation into the murders and violence that mainly affected the weakest sectors of society and deeply marked to Philippine society.
Lawyers for the families of the victims insist on an independent investigation. For its part, despite having ratified the Treaty of Rome in 2011 recognizing the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, at least until it withdrew in October 2017, the Philippines requested to suspend it for two reasons: foreign intervention would entail a violation of the country’s sovereignty and would lack legal basis.
In the 50-page document that was sent to the court in recent days, they requested “to guarantee a suspensive effect pending the appeal ruling.” The statement by the former Minister of Justice and now Attorney General, Menardo Guevarra, also went in this direction, affirming that “the accusatory activities of the International Criminal Court to advance the investigation lack any legal basis and violate the sovereignty of the Republic of the Philippines ”. The current president, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., has repeatedly confirmed his position against any foreign intervention in the matter, relying on unprecedented popular support and the general desire for legality and social peace.
However, the Court of Appeal’s verdict on the basis of the Manila petition could give the green light to the sentencing proceedings, unless, Human Rights Watch recalls, one has to face the difficulty of prosecuting people of whom concrete evidence will have to be gathered with very uncertain deadlines, even in the case of Duterte, who wanted, among other things, to grant immunity to the police for their repressive actions.
Officially, the victims of the anti-drug campaign would be 6,248, but according to independent sources the number would be at least double. Two particular cases also emerge from the analysis of official data. The first is that it was primarily the poor and marginalized who paid with their lives. The second refers to the high number of murders in the cities, beginning with the metropolitan area of the capital, where 39.8% of the deaths were registered, despite the fact that less than 13% of the population lives in Manila. In the capital itself, moreover, 51% of the deaths were due to circumstances other than those admitted as a consequence of resistance to authority and in response to police attacks.