Reacting to Sen. Risa Hontiveros’ resolution urging the government to cooperate with the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) in its drug war probe in the Philippines, Sen. Imee Marcos said the Netherlands-based tribunal has “no jurisdiction” to conduct the investigation because of the country’s “functioning” judicial system.
This is misleading.
In a Nov. 28 interview on CNN Philippines’ Balitaan program, news anchor Mai Rodriguez asked Marcos what she thinks about the ICC jurisdiction to investigate alleged crimes against humanity committed in the drug war during the Duterte administration.
Marcos, who said earlier that day that she agrees that the ICC investigators should not be allowed entry into the country, replied:
“Paulit-ulit ko nang sinasabi na talagang walang hurisdiksyon ang ICC. They have absolutely no jurisdiction in the Philippines pagka’t ang liwa-liwanag ng mga datos ng ICC, ang kanilang – ang sariling mga batay at batas ay talagang nagpapakita na ‘pag hindi umaandar at wala nang korte na nakikinig at naglilitis, eh, saka lang sila papasok.”
(I have been saying repeatedly that the ICC has no jurisdiction. They have absolutely no jurisdiction in the Philippines because the ICC’s data, its own basis and rules clearly show that they only intervene if the courts are no longer working, not listening or prosecuting.)
Source: CNN Philippines, en. Marcos: Nasa Ehekutibo kung makikipagtulungan ang PH sa ICC | Balitaan, Nov. 28, 2023, watch from 1:23 to 1:53
The lawmaker asserted that the judicial system in the country is “functioning” because it has allowed former senator Leila De Lima to post bail. Citing the development, Marcos said De Lima “benefited” from the country’s strong and free judiciary.
De Lima was released from detention on Nov. 13 after more than six years over her alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade at the national penitentiary when she was secretary of Justice.
The ICC seeks to complement local justice systems, not replace them, and prosecutes cases only when states are “unable or unwilling to do so” in a genuine manner. For this reason, when the ICC resumed its full-blown investigation of the drug war, it pointed out that the Philippine government’s own drug war proceedings “do not amount to tangible, concrete and progressive investigative steps” that would sufficiently mirror ICC’s probe and justify its suspension.
In its Jan. 26 decision, the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber I explained that investigations in the Philippines only address “the physical, low-ranking perpetrators and, at present, do not extend to any high-ranking officials.”
This makes Marcos one of the many public figures who have made misleading claims in asserting the Philippines’ “non-cooperation” to the ICC’s probe of the Duterte administration’s drug war.
(Read VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Dela Rosa’s statement on ICC complementarity principle is misleading, VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Jinggoy Estrada’s statement on ICC complementarity principle misleads, VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Remulla repeats ICC jurisdiction, complementarity principle claims lacking context)
A Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court released De Lima and four other co-accused persons on Nov. 13 after payment of P300,000 bail each. In a 69-page decision, the court said that the testimonies of the prosecution’s witnesses were not able to establish a conspiracy among the defendants to commit illegal drug trading.
Marcos released a statement the next day, citing De Lima’s case as a “testament” to judicial independence.
The lawmaker, who chairs the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, added that the case “bolsters” her position that ICC has no jurisdiction over the country, even less over former president Rodrigo Duterte.
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Senate of the Philippines, Proposed Senate Resolution No. 867, Nov. 28, 2023
International Criminal Court, How the Court Works, Accessed Feb. 6, 2023
International Criminal Court, Public Redacted Version of “Authorisation pursuant to article 18(2) of the Statute to resume the investigation”, Jan. 26, 2023
ABS-CBN News, Why Muntinlupa court allowed De Lima, others to post bail, Nov. 13, 2023
One News, De Lima Freed On Bail; 4 Co-Accused Also Granted Temporary Liberty, Nov. 13, 2023
Inquirer.net, Muntinlupa court allows De Lima to post bail, Nov. 13, 2023
Sen. Imee Marcos Official Facebook Page, “The independence of the judiciary…”, Nov. 14, 2023
(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)