March 4, 2024

The issue involving the authority of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate alleged crimes against humanity during the term of President Rodrigo R. Duterte continues to fester and simply refuses to die down.
Just when President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. conveniently thumbs down any cooperation to the said court on its request to be granted jurisdiction to probe the bloody war against drugs during the past regime, comes another attempt to resurrect the investigation.
Ironically, the attempt to allow the ICC to intervene comes not from the ICC but from Congress. Several lawmakers are adopting measures to urge the government to cooperate with prosecutors from the ICC regarding the probe on the alleged extrajudicial killings and other crimes related to Oplan Tokhang and Project Double Barrel.
On the other hand, Vice President Sara Duterte opines that any investigation to be conducted by the ICC is unconstitutional and will only degrade the credibility of the Philippine courts. She asserts that there are enough prosecutors who are able and qualified to investigate if it so warrants an investigation and prosecution.
To a certain extent, the Vice President is correct. The authority of the ICC to encroach upon the jurisdiction of local prosecutors is only if the latter are unwilling and unable to investigate and prosecute crimes within the ICC’s mandate.
These crimes are genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes and crimes that were perpetuated by the state.
The ICC’s proposed investigation is premised upon crimes against humanity. However, categorizing the deaths that happened during Duterte’s drug war as a crime against humanity is suspect.
Let me explain.
In the original charter of the ICC that was enacted as an offshoot to the Nuremburg trials against German military officials, it defines crimes against humanity as one “committed as part of a widespread and systematic attack directed against any civilian population” or an attack that “shocks the conscience of mankind.”
Nothing in Duterte’s drug war shocks the conscience of mankind. In all honesty, I think that majority of Filipinos even liked it as it was during those times that the rate of criminality in the country plummeted to its lowest ebb. Neither was there a systematic attack against any civilian population. The attack, if there was, was against known drug peddlers and drug pushers who made life miserable for law-abiding citizens.
Aside from that, there are already cases involving abuses in the drug war that were filed. To allow the ICC to substitute its discretion to the manner by which these are going to be prosecuted will, indeed, be an insult to our legal system.
We have a functioning police force, an able department of justice to prosecute cases and criminal courts where due process is practiced and promoted. The ICC probe will only be a double jeopardy of sorts and will only politicize a strictly police matter. It will only promote the agenda of some political bigwigs.
If justice is to be achieved in this country, let it be done through our own personnel and through our own system. A probe by an international agency may only result in an intervention which, under international law, is tantamount to a breach of sovereignty.