ICC weaponized

By Artchil B. Fernandez

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is the court of last resort for the victims of Du30’s bloody and savage war against illegal drugs. The failure of Philippine justice system to investigate and give justice to the victims prompted the international community through the ICC to intervene. But ICC work is now sucked in the current “cocaine-fentanyl war” raging between House Duterte and House Marcos.

When ICC decided to investigate Du30’s drugs war, he angrily decided to withdraw the Philippines from the Rome Statute. He was hoping the withdrawal will prevent the ICC from investigating him and other officials of his administration who were involved in the gory and horrific war on drugs.

But Du30 failed to stop the investigation. The Philippine Supreme Court already resolved the legal aspect of the question on jurisdiction. Voting 15-0, the Supreme Court issued jurisprudence on ICC investigation of Du30’s gruesome and brutal war to eradicate illegal drugs.

“Withdrawing from the Rome Statute does not discharge a state party from the obligations it has incurred as a member,” the High Tribunal declared in a 101-page decision authored by Associate Justice Marvic Leonen. “Consequently, liability for the alleged summary killings and other atrocities committed in the course of the war on drugs is not nullified or negated here,” the Court ruled.

The Supreme Court likewise decreed that the Philippine government must cooperate with the ICC in its investigation. “Even if it has deposited the instrument of withdrawal, it shall not be discharged from any criminal proceedings. Whatever process was already initiated before the [ICC] obliges the state party to cooperate,” the High Court added.

Bongbong Marcos (BBM) while campaigning for the presidency in 2022 said he will not cooperate with the ICC notwithstanding Supreme Court ruling issued the year before.  His position is dictated by politics at that time – to please and curry favor from his major partner in the UniTeam, the Dutertes. BBM in deliberate amnesia forgot that he was one of the 17 senators who voted to ratify the Rome Statute which allowed the Philippines to join the ICC.

With the destruction of UniTeam and the heightening conflict between Team Tigre and Team Agila, the ICC investigation has become a ball in the political football between the two antagonists. In what is now becoming an established pattern of BBM, he put out two faces on the issue. The “good cop, bad cop” game BBM loves to play is once again in full display on the issue of ICC investigation of Du30’s bloody carnage.

The Department of Justice (DoJ) last week again is singing a different tune on ICC investigation issue, opposite of BBM. Since last year the DoJ has expressed openness on ICC investigation and is warm to the prospect of allowing ICC investigators in the country. DoJ of late is updating its position on ICC from openness to the prospect of the Philippines re-joining the international tribunal.

What prompted the DoJ to issue its latest position is the talks going around that the ICC will issue a warrant of arrest to Du30 and cahoots next month or few months from now.  DoJ claimed that it is merely preparing for the scenario when it issued its position on the matter.  The agency is just giving BBM “all legal options.”

“Once the ICC warrants of arrest, if ever, are issued, then he will know what the legalities are, his options, and the President’s remedies,” the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced. The legal brief gives BBM “objective statement or an analysis of the pros and cons of each option” which will serve as guide on “how he will move” the DoJ said.

Among the legal options available is rejoining the ICC, a return to the Rome Statute.  Here, the DoJ is wielding the stick. BBM on the other hand is playing it good.

“Let me say this for the 100th time. I do not recognize the jurisdiction of the ICC in the Philippines. I consider it as a threat to our sovereignty, therefore, the Philippine government will not lift a finger to help any investigation that the ICC conducts.” This is BBM’s reaction to DoJ’s option of rejoining the ICC.

The targets of this charade are the Dutertes and Team Agila.  While BBM acts as if he is still holding on to his position during the campaign, his DoJ on the other hand is taking the opposite stance.  Is there anyone who foolishly believes the DoJ is really capable of opposing BBM who can change the justice secretary anytime?

ICC is being weaponized by Team Tigre to neutralize and intimidate Team Agila.  Impending ICC warrant of arrest is the Damocles Sword hanging on the heads of Team Agila and the Dutertes.  Is it purely coincidental that rejoining the ICC is publicly dangled as rumors of destabilization being fanned by the Dutertes and Team Agila swirl around the country?  ICC investigation becomes the tool of the Marcoses to put the Dutertes not only on the defensive but to threaten therm.

Is BBM really concerned with seeking justice for the victims of the war on drugs if he ever decides the country rejoins ICC? The decision is dependent on the advantage or disadvantage it will bring to BBM, the House Marcos and Team Agila. If rejoining is beneficial to them, Philippines will return to ICC.  If returning to the fold of Rome Statue does not bring political bonanza to them, BBM will not allow the country to rejoin ICC.   Selfish interest is the deciding factor. BBM, as a two-faced political operator, is once more exposed on this issue.

This is tragic for the victims of Du30’s drugs war.  Giving justice to them is dependent on political expediency. The Marcos hypocrisy is again in full display.