VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Padilla echoes Marcos, Guevarra statements against ICC that lack context

March 30, 2023


(UPDATED) Sen. Robinhood Padilla echoed the statements of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra that the International Criminal Court (ICC) does not have jurisdiction over the Philippines, which lack context.

STATEMENT

In a March 29 statement, Padilla said:

“Our President has made it clear: The ICC has no jurisdiction over the Philippines. Our Solicitor General has also said the Philippines has no legal or moral obligation to cooperate with the ICC.”

He added:

“The ICC seems to be standing on shaky ground. It has no power to force itself on the sovereignty of our Motherland, the Philippines.”

 

Source: Senate of the Philippines official website, On the ICC’s Insistence on Investigating the Philippines’ Anti-Drug War, March 29, 2023

Marcos was one of the 17 senators who voted to ratify the Philippines’ membership to the Rome Statute in 2011. However, when he became president in 2022, Marcos made a turnabout, saying the ICC has no jurisdiction over the country. (See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Marcos’ about-face on Philippines’ membership to the ICC and VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Marcos’ claim on ICC jurisdiction needs context)

FACT

The ICC retains jurisdiction over any crimes that occurred in the Philippines when it was still a state party from Nov. 1, 2011 to March 16, 2019. A former state party like the Philippines is not cleared of its obligations for incidents that occurred during its membership, based on Article 127 paragraph 2 of the Rome Statute, the founding treaty of the ICC.

The ICC Pre-Trial Chamber had asserted in its September 2021 decision authorizing the launch of the drug war probe that a preliminary examination into alleged crimes that occurred in the anti-drug campaign of the Duterte administration was already pending even before the Philippines’ withdrawal took effect in March 2019.

The chamber said:

“This is in line with the law of treaties, which provides that withdrawal from a treaty does not affect any right, obligation or legal situation created through the execution of the treaty prior to its termination.”

 

Source: International Criminal Court official website, Decision on the Prosecutor’s request for authorisation of an investigation pursuant to Article 15(3) of the Statute, Sept. 15, 2021

The Supreme Court affirmed this obligation in the March 2021 decision on the Pangilinan v. Cayetano case. Although the decision was rendered moot and academic, the high court said the Philippines “remained covered and bound by the Rome Statute until March 17, 2019.”

BACKSTORY

On March 27, the ICC Appeals Chamber junked the government’s request to suspend the court’s investigation pending the resolution of its appeal to reverse the Jan. 26 decision of the Pre-Trial Chamber I that allowed Prosecutor Karim Khan to resume the drug war probe. The Appeals Chamber has not yet resolved the government’s petition for reversal. (Read ICC resumes full-blown investigation into Duterte administration’s drug war)

Khan has been allowed to continue the probe due to the government’s alleged failure to conduct genuine investigations, particularly the lack of inquiry into the alleged systematic nature of the drug war killings. It also noted that most of the cases presented by the government focus only on low-ranking police officers instead of the “most responsible” officials behind the drug war.

The ICC investigation covers alleged crimes against humanity under the Duterte administration’s drug war from July 1, 2016 to March 16, 2019, and the 2011-2016 extrajudicial killings and other related crimes in the Davao region.

Editor’s note: This fact check was updated to reflect the correct year President Marcos signed the ratification of the Rome Statute in 2011 when he was still a senator. We apologize for this typographical error and thank the reader who pointed it out.

Have you seen any dubious claims, photos, memes, or online posts that you want us to verify? Fill out this reader request form.

Sources

Senate of the Philippines official website, On the ICC’s Insistence on Investigating the Philippines’ Anti-Drug War, March 29, 2023

RTVMalacanang official YouTube channel, Media Interview by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. following the Pag-IBIG Fund Chairman’s Report (transcript), March 28, 2023

Inquirer.net,  Philippines declares no moral duty to cooperate with ICC | Inquirer News, March 28, 2023

Philippine News Agency, OSG: Philippines not bound to cooperate with ICC, March 28, 2023

News5, HUMAN RIGHTS | Marcos’ disengagement from ICC exposes ’empty platitudes,’ says group, March 29, 2023

International Criminal Court official website, Decision on the Prosecutor’s request for authorisation of an investigation pursuant to Article 15(3) of the Statute, Sept. 15, 2021

International Criminal Court official website, Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Accessed March 29, 2023

Supreme Court of the Philippines E-library official website, G.R. No. 238875, March 16, 2021

International Criminal Court official website, Public Redacted Version of “Authorisation pursuant to article 18(2) of the Statute to resume the investigation”, Jan. 26, 2023

International Criminal Court official website, Decision on request for suspensive effect of Pre-Trial Chamber I’s “Authorisation pursuant to article 18(2) of the Statute to resume the investigation” of 26 January 2023 (ICC-01/21-56), March 27, 2023

 



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VERA Files is a nonstock, nonprofit, independent media organization. Founded in March 2008, it is published by veteran Filipino journalists taking a deeper look into current Philippine issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”

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