President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. questioned the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate alleged crimes against humanity committed in carrying out the Duterte administration’s war on drugs. This needs context.
Marcos is the latest and the highest public official who put into question ICC’s jurisdiction to investigate the drug-related killings under the Duterte administration, saying that the country’s judicial system is working and that it has already withdrawn from the Netherlands-based tribunal.
In an interview with reporters at the 2023 alumni homecoming of the Philippine Military Academy in Baguio City on Feb. 18, Marcos was asked about his plan on the impending investigation by the ICC of the drug-related killings under former president Rodrigo Duterte’s administration.
“My position hasn’t changed and I have stated it often even before I took office as president that there are many questions about their jurisdiction and … what can be — what we in the Philippines regard as an intrusion into our internal matters and a threat to our sovereignty.”
Marcos added that he cannot cooperate in the ICC investigation until his questions on jurisdiction and its impact on the country’s sovereignty are answered:
“So, no, I do not see what their jurisdiction is. I feel that we have in our police, in our judiciary, a good system. We do not need assistance from any outside entity. The Philippines is a sovereign nation and we are not colonies anymore of this former imperialist. So that is not something that we consider to be a legitimate judgment.”
Source: watch from 00:42 to 1:33
The president made the statement after former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, now a senior deputy speaker at the House of Representatives, and 18 other lawmakers filed a resolution on Feb. 15 urging the chamber to defend Duterte from an ICC investigation.
Macapagal-Arroyo is a political ally of Marcos, referring to her as a “secret weapon” for helping in his state visits and other foreign trips.
The ICC retains jurisdiction over crimes that occurred in the Philippines when it was still a state party from Nov. 1, 2011 to March 16, 2019. A country like the Philippines that has withdrawn from the court is not cleared of its obligations for incidents that occurred during its membership, based on Article 127, paragraph 2 of the Rome Statute, the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.
During his stint as a lawmaker, Marcos was one of the 17 senators who voted on Aug. 23, 2011 to ratify the Rome Statute. He neither raised questions regarding the provisions of the ICC during Senate hearings nor expressed reservations for his affirmative vote.
The Senate gave its concurrence, pursuant to the 1987 Constitution, to the decision of then-president Benigno Simeon Aquino III to make the Philippines a state party to the Netherlands-based court.
However, Aquino’s successor, Rodrigo Duterte, ordered the country’s withdrawal in March 2018, which took effect a year later. Duterte made the decision a month after then-ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda launched a preliminary examination into the alleged killings and other crimes committed under his administration’s war on drugs.
In August 2022, Marcos declared that the Philippines will not rejoin the ICC under his administration. (See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Marcos’ about-face on Philippines’ membership to the ICC)
On Jan. 26, the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber I granted the request of Prosecutor Karim Khan to resume the investigation into alleged crimes against humanity under the Duterte administration’s drug war from July 1, 2016 to March 16, 2019. The investigation also covers extrajudicial killings and other related crimes in the Davao region from Nov. 1, 2011 to June 30, 2016.
The chamber allowed the resumption of the probe, which was suspended in November 2021, on the Philippine government’s request to Khan to defer to local investigations.
On Feb. 3, the Philippine government notified the ICC Appeals Chamber, a separate judicial branch from the Pre-Trial Chamber, that it opposes the resumption of Khan’s investigation. The government has until March 13 to submit a brief to substantiate its notice of appeal.
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Presidential Communications Office official website, Departure Statement by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. for his Official Visit to Japan, Feb. 8, 2023
Senate of the Philippines official website, Senate Journal for Session No. 12, Aug. 23, 2011
Senate of the Philippines official website, Press Release – PRIB: Senate approves ratification of Rome Statute on final reading, Aug. 23, 2011
United Nations official website, Philippines ratifies the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Aug. 30, 2011
United Nations official website, Notice of withdrawal to the Rome Statute of the Philippines, March 17, 2018
International Criminal Court official website, Rome Statute, Accessed Feb. 20, 2023
International Criminal Court official website, Statement of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, on opening Preliminary Examinations into the situations in the Philippines and in Venezuela, Feb. 8, 2018
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, Philippine Government’s Notice of Appeal against the Pre-Trial Chamber I’s”Authorisation pursuant to article 18(2) of the Statute to resume the investigation”(ICC-01121-56) with Application for Suspensive Effect, Feb. 2, 2023
International Criminal Court official website, Philippine Government’s Application Extension of Time to File the Appeal Brief, Feb. 17, 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.)