ICC likely to proceed with drug probe, says opposition lawmaker

THE INTERNATIONAL Criminal Court (ICC) would probably go ahead with its investigation of President Rodrigo for alleged crimes against humanity in connection with his deadly war on drugs despite his noncooperation, according to an opposition senator.

“It’s easy to say ‘I will not recognize [the ICC jurisdiction]’ but when you start to talk about the path that is being undertaken, the nonrecognition will not result in the ICC stopping its investigation,” Senator Franklin M. Drilon told the ABS-CBN News Channel on Wednesday.

He noted that ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda had ruled that the international tribunal could proceed with the probe even after the Philippines withdrew from the ICC.

“The President’s advisers are at a crossroad,” said Mr. Drilon, who is a lawyer. He added that Mr. Duterte could end up failing to defend himself if he fails to cooperate with the investigation.

Ms. Bensouda on June 14 asked the ICC’s pre-trial chamber to allow her office to probe the death of drug suspects in the Philippines.

She said she had finished a preliminary prober and has requested judicial authorization to proceed with an investigation.

Presidential spokesman Herminio L. Roque, Jr. on Tuesday said the move was “legally erroneous and politically motivated,” adding that the ICC does not have the power to hear cases involving crimes against humanity.

He also said the government would not cooperate with any investigation by the ICC, adding that the Philippines is no longer an ICC member.

Ms. Bensouda has said the court could still investigate alleged crimes that Philippine authorities committed when it was still and ICC member. The Philippines withdrew from the Rome Statute, which established the ICC, in 2019.

“These extrajudicial killings, perpetrated across the Philippines, appear to have been committed pursuant to an official state policy of the Philippine government,” Ms. Bensouda said this week.

“Police and other government officials planned, ordered and sometimes directly perpetrated extrajudicial killings,” she said. “They paid police officers and vigilantes bounties for extrajudicial killings. State officials at the highest levels of government also spoke publicly and repeatedly in support of extrajudicial killings, and created a culture of impunity for those who committed them.”

Ms. Bensouda proposed the probe before retiring on June 15. Britain’s Karim Khan took over on June 16 and will take over the case if it prospers.

Tens of thousands of drug suspects have been killed in Mr. Duterte’s drug war. Police have put the number at about 7,000, but human rights groups have said the number could go as high as 27,000. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

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