MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang said on Saturday the “politicization that has seeped” into the International Criminal Court (ICC) would be exposed if it allowed its chief prosecutor Karim Khan to take over the investigation into the bloody war on drugs. of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Acting presidential spokesman Martin Andanar said the Philippine government was “infuriated” by Khan’s request to the court’s pre-trial chamber to be allowed to resume the investigation, even though it was the first time that the ICC prosecutor requested it.
Khan asked the authority to resume the investigation on Friday after finding “no indication” that the Philippine government had investigated or was investigating the conduct of police and government leaders in the bloody war on drugs, such as the administration promised as much when it requested that the investigation be postponed. Khan’s office suspended its investigation in November last year.
Andanar insisted that the Duterte administration had been transparent in addressing “alleged flaws” in the war on drugs.
“Reciprocity is the key”
“In the midst of our hugely successful anti-illegal drug campaign that has seen a massive drop in the incidences of crimes attributed to drug abuse, the Duterte administration has undertaken, through the justice department (DOJ), in partnership with the Philippine National Police, among others, investigations of all deaths resulting from lawful drug enforcement operations,” he added.
Andanar told the ICC to “let these efforts by the Philippine government take their course.”
“After all, reciprocity is a key principle in the ICC’s working methods. Deviating from this principle will only expose the politicization that has seeped into the ranks of the ICC,” he said.
Andanar noted that the ICC prosecutor had requested a resumption of the investigation following a report by the Commission on Human Rights into the Drug War killings.
But he said the CHR report did not mention that ICC intervention was necessary.
“Let it be clarified that while the CHR recommended in the said report that the competent international organizations continue to monitor the human rights situation in the country, in no part of its report does this even imply the need to a direct external investigation,” Andanar said.
“Certainly, the CHR knows the implications of such an intervention on state sovereignty, and we expect the ICC, especially Mr. Khan, to know that as well,” he added.
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency reported that more than 6,000 people have been killed in police anti-drug operations since 2016, but human rights groups have said the number may be closer to 30,000.
Calling for the inquiry to resume, Khan said the request for the inquiry to be postponed could no longer be justified as the government had only dealt with a ‘small fraction’ of the thousands of murders and these were not involved only “low-level (mostly direct) killings) perpetrators.
DOJ Review Results, So Far
On January 25, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said that only four of the 52 “nanlaban” (resisting arrest) cases under investigation had been recommended for prosecution after the National Bureau of Investigation had found evidence of criminal acts committed by police officers involved in the operations.
Nanlaban became the routine justification cited by police for killing suspected drug offenders.
Guevarra also ordered the NBI to expedite its review of the remaining 48 drug operations that resulted in questionable deaths.
In October last year, the DOJ released a summary of its review of 52 drug-related murders which showed the officers involved got away with light sentences, such as suspension. Rights advocates have noted a pattern of police abuse and impunity in anti-drug operations.
Justice Undersecretary Adrian Sugay has acknowledged that another 6,000 cases of drug war-related killings need to be investigated.
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ICC prosecutor calls for resumption of investigation into PH human rights situation
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