Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla criticized the International Criminal Court (ICC) for “insist[ing] on entering the Philippines” to investigate drug-related killings during the Duterte administration despite the country’s withdrawal from the Netherlands-based tribunal. This lacks context.
This is the third time on VERA Files Fact Check’s count that Remulla omitted a crucial context on the issue.
(See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Justice Secretary’s comment on ICC jurisdiction needs context and VERA FILES FACT CHECK: For the second time, Justice secretary’s claim on ICC jurisdiction over PH needs context)
During a Jan. 27 press conference, Remulla’s comment was sought on the decision of the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber I to resume the probe into alleged crimes against humanity related to the Duterte administration’s war on drugs.
“I do not get why they insist on entering the Philippines in spite of the fact that we are no longer members [of the ICC].”
Source: ANC official YouTube channel, LOOK: DOJ holds press conference as ICC allows resumption of PH drug war probe | ANC, Jan. 27, 2023, watch from from 1:07 to 1:18
“And that the principle here is, if ever we are members, is the issue of complementarity. And complementary means that there is no overlapping jurisdiction. It’s either us or them. Do they want to put out our country … our leaders from this country and take over our legal system?
Source: watch from 1:18 to 1:40
In the same press conference, Remulla inaccurately claimed that no other country in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a member of the ICC. (See Remulla falsely claims ICC has no member in ASEAN)
Article 127, paragraph 2 of the Rome Statute, the founding treaty of the ICC, states that a country that has withdrawn is not cleared of its obligations for incidents that occurred during its membership. The Philippines officially became a member of the ICC in November 2011, thus binding the country to the treaty’s provisions until its official withdrawal on March 17, 2019.
This was affirmed by the Supreme Court in March 2021 in the Pangilinan v. Cayetano case.
In November 2021, ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan announced a temporary suspension of the probe in response to the Philippine government’s request for the ICC to defer to local procedures. Seven months later, Khan requested the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber I to allow a resumption of the probe due to alleged failure of the government to conduct genuine investigations.
On Jan. 26, the chamber granted Khan’s request saying “[it] is not satisfied that the Philippines is undertaking relevant investigations that would warrant a deferral of the Court’s investigations on the basis of the complementarity principle.”
Under the ICC’s principle of complementarity, its prosecutor may defer the investigation to a state if the latter proves that there are ongoing and existing local investigations or prosecutions related to crimes under the court’s jurisdiction. But the prosecutor must also assess that local probes are being conducted “genuinely” and if the state is unwilling or unable to conduct the relevant proceedings.
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ANC official YouTube channel, LOOK: DOJ holds press conference as ICC allows resumption of PH drug war probe | ANC, Jan. 27, 2023
International Criminal Court official website, Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Accessed Jan. 30, 2023
Supreme Court official website, G.R. No. 238875/G.R. No. 239483/G.R. No. 240954, March 16, 2021
International Criminal Court official website, ICC Pre-Trial Chamber I authorises Prosecutor to resume investigation in the Philippines, Jan. 30, 2023
International Criminal Court official website, Notification of the Republic of the Philippines’ deferral request under article 18(2) (Annex A Public), Nov. 18, 2021
International Criminal Court official website, Prosecution’s request to resume the investigation into the situation in the Philippines pursuant to article 18(2), June 24, 2022
(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.)