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Recommendations to the Philippine Government and the International Community On International Justice Day and Prior to the First SONA of President Marcos

PUBLIC STATEMENT

Philippine Coalition for the International Criminal Court (PCICC)

All over the world every year, July 17 is celebrated as International Day of Justice. It marks the adoption of the Rome Statute that established the International Criminal Court (ICC), a court of last resort which deliver justice for genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of aggression. It also highlights the need for domestic courts to be able to prosecute and exact accountability for serious crimes that violate international laws.

On July 25, President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. will have the First State of the Nation Address (SONA). We expect more concrete policy statements that will ensure human rights protection and justice, taking off from the new government’s assessment of the country’s critical condition.

We recall with concern that former President Duterte withdrew our membership in the ICC, attacked the Court as an institution, and attacked ICC officers and even United Nations special rapporteurs.

We note with sadness that the Philippines has not conducted effective investigations of the killings related to the war on drugs, except for 1 case, and failed to look at the systemic nature of the violations, leaving families of victims still waiting for justice after 6 years of unabated extrajudicial executions in the country.

As we celebrate the establishment of the ICC, we wait with hopeful anticipation for the go signal of the Pre-Trial Chamber for the resumption of the investigation by the Office of the Prosecutor into the Philippine situation involving possible crimes against humanity of murder in the Duterte government’s War on Drugs.

We wait with bated breath and anticipation how the new Philippine government will pursue drug control in the country, as we note Ferdinand Marcos’ Jr.’s statements not to allow the ICC to investigate while he was campaigning and his recent commitments to the UN Resident Coordinator in the Philippines Gustavo Gonzales about fighting drugs within the rule of law and with “high level of accountability for human rights issues”.  

The Philippine Coalition for the ICC, which campaigned for the Philippines to join the ICC, puts forward urgent recommendations to the Philippine government, the Assembly of States Parties of the Rome Statute, and the United Nations in order that families of victims of the killings will concretely experience that indeed justice is possible at the domestic and international levels.

In order for the Philippine government to ensure that drugs control will be conducted within a human rights framework, the rule of law and with high level of accountability, it must  

  • immediately review and reject the current bloody war on drugs and develop a comprehensive plan versus drug abuse that integrates human rights principles, due process, and a public health framework within its first 100 days of this new administration.  The plan should have clear human rights outcomes and impact and adequate resources which must be monitored regularly, possibly every 6 months during the 6 year term;
  • allow the visit to the Philippines of UN Special Rapporteurs within 100 days of this new administration, particularly the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health as these UN officials are experts who can identify good practices and challenges, as well as the most effective ways to assist the Philippines in guaranteeing the protection of the right to life and the right to health, particularly in the context of the anti-drug campaign;
  • declare within 100 days of this new administration that it will cooperate with the ICC when it starts to investigate possible crimes against humanity of murder in the bloody war on drugs towards international justice and accountability not only of those who pulled the trigger but also those who enabled the killings of thousands in the War on Drugs;
  • order the immediate investigation of cases, whether covered or not covered by the  ICC investigations, within the first 100 days of this new administration;
  • review the Philippine government position on the ICC towards the ratification of the Rome Statute and return to the Court of last resort as a concrete proof of its support for international  justice for genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of aggression.

We call on the UN Human Rights Council to:

  • review its decision not to probe into the WoD and reconsider an inquiry during the UNHRC September 2022 session. Perhaps the ICC OTP’s findings and conclusion that there is no genuine investigations towards justice into the killings and into the systemic nature of the crimes can be considered in its further deliberations and processes;
  • assess the UN Technical Assistance to the Philippines and include as key result areas and impact the following a) effective investigations of cases and actual prosecution of perpetrators of the killings in the WoD, and b) developed program vs. drug abuse that integrates human rights, due process and public health perspective to ensure that UN training and other assistance will not only be a waste of resources;
  • closely look into the human rights situation in the country, including the impact of the WoD when it reviews the Philippines during the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in its 41st session (October-November 2022).

We call on the United Nations members and Assembly of State Parties of the Rome Statute

  • to identify concrete measures and actions in order to provide the ICC with adequate resources and political support to deliver justice as a court of last resort as it examines, investigates and tries alleged perpetrators of the crimes within the jurisdiction of the court.

We hope that our recommendations to the Philippine government and the international institutions will not fall on deaf ears. Justice must not sleep on the victims of serious crimes and their families.

Ray Paolo Santiago   
Aurora A. Parong
Co-Chairpersons
Philippine Coalition for the International Criminal Court (PCICC)
17 July 2022