News THE ICC PROBE Duterte's Drug war

PH urges ICC to dismiss request of drug war families to air side on probe appeal

The Philippine government has requested the International Criminal Court (ICC) to deny the request by the families of alleged drug war victims to respond to the state’s appeal to stop the court’s investigation into former president Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody campaign.

In its eight-page appeal before the ICC Appeals Chamber, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) noted that the anonymous application of the 90 relatives failed to name their lawyer and state if all of them “had been subject to a preliminary assessment by the Victims Participation and Reparations Section (VPRS).  The VPRS is the office responsible for assisting victims applying for participation in proceedings and requesting reparations. (Read Families of drug war victims seek permission to air side on PH appeal vs. ICC probe)

The OSG also opposed the request of the Office of the Public Counsel for Victims (OPCV) of the ICC to participate in the proceedings, noting that “there is no basis to regard the OPCV as a ‘participant’ in the broader proceedings” since it had “no role or involvement in the collection or presentation of the views and concerns of victims.”

The OPCV is an independent office of the ICC that offers support and legal assistance to victims of legal cases and may be chosen to represent victims in court.

“There remains no compelling reason nor procedural basis to grant OPCV leave to participate in appellate proceedings, where it has not been a prior participant, on behalf of hypothetical victims in a hypothetical case,” the government argued in its March 2 submission.

The government also stated that it “cannot effectively exercise its rights [if] it is precluded from scrutinizing the submissions of all other participants” and accused both the OPCV and the families of “[falling] foul…of procedural and substantive requirements which are necessary in these proceedings.”

Last month, the OSG had asked the ICC’s Appeals Chamber to reverse a decision allowing Prosecutor Karim Khan to resume an investigation into alleged crimes against humanity related to the Duterte administration’s controversial anti-drug campaign from July 2016 to March 2019 and the Davao Death Squad killings from 2011 to June 2016 when the former president was Davao City mayor. (Read ICC prosecutor asks for denial of PH request to suspend probe on drug war crimes; OSG seeks extension to file appeal)

The OSG’s move prompted the relatives’ request and the OPCV’s intervention in the proceedings through a 35-page observation report on the appeal brief to be filed by the Philippines to the ICC by March 13.

Read the Philippine government’s full request here.