Sen. Jinggoy Estrada on Feb. 21 explained that he filed a resolution urging the Senate to oppose the resumption of the International Criminal Court (ICC) probe into drug war-related killings during the Duterte administration because the judicial system in the country is fully functioning. He stressed that the government has done its own investigation and filed appropriate cases. This is misleading.
Estrada’s resolution was filed a day after Sen. Robinhood Padilla asked the Senate in a separate resolution to declare “unequivocal defense” of former president Rodrigo Duterte. Padilla’s resolution mirrors Senior Deputy Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s House Resolution 780 filed on Feb. 15.. (Read AT A GLANCE: House Resolution to support Duterte vs ICC probe)
Estrada was one of the 17 senators who voted to ratify the Rome Statute, the treaty establishing the ICC, in 2011.
In a press release, Estrada said:
“As I have pointed out in Senate Resolution No. 492, our domestic institutions are fully functional and more than capable to address the concerns raised by the Prosecutor of the ICC Karim A. A. Khan QC and our government formally conveyed this to the ICC in a letter dated November 10, 2021. Our Department of Justice and the Philippine National Police-Internal Affairs Service have in fact investigated the alleged crimes committed between July 1, 2016 to March 16, 2019 under the so-called war on drugs campaign and such effort resulted in the filing of four criminal cases before the courts.”
Source: Senate of the Philippines, SENATOR JINGGOY EJERCITO ESTRADA’S RESPONSE TO QUERY ON HIS DECISION TO FILE SRN 492, Feb. 21, 2023
The ICC has made clear that it does not intend to replace domestic courts as it only prosecutes cases when states are proven to be unwilling or incapable of doing so.
In its Jan. 26 decision, however, the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber I noted that the investigation of the drug war done by the Philippine government covered only “low-ranking” police officers and failed to probe into the systemic nature of the crimes or identify the “most responsible” officials.
The investigation of the ICC Office of the Prosecutor covers the alleged killings related to Duterte’s drug war and those of the 2011-2016 vigilante group Davao Death Squad.
In its authorization decision, the Pre-Trial Chamber I wrote, “The Philippines has failed to provide material which demonstrates that it has conducted or is conducting national investigations or prosecutions that sufficiently mirror the investigation authorized by the Chamber, despite having been provided with ample opportunity to do so.”
Neither Duterte nor Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, the two officials named in the ICC Office of the Prosecutor’s 2021 investigation request, are facing charges in local courts for alleged involvement in the drug war or the killings by the Davao Death Squad.
Estrada is the second senator to make this misleading claim. His colleague, Dela Rosa, left out important context on the ICC’s principle of complementarity on Feb. 2. (Read VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Dela Rosa’s statement on ICC complementarity principle is misleading)
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Senate of the Philippines, SENATOR JINGGOY EJERCITO ESTRADA’S RESPONSE TO QUERY ON HIS DECISION TO FILE SRN 492, Feb. 21, 2023
Senate of the Philippines, ROME STATUTE OF THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT, Aug. 23, 2011
International Criminal Court, How the Court Works, accessed on 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
International Criminal Court, Public redacted version of “Request for authorisation of an investigation pursuant to article 15(3)”, 24 May 2021, ICC-01/21-7-SECRET-Exp, June 14, 2021
(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.)