Get lost, ICC

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. announced Monday that the Philippines under his administration has no intention or interest in rejoining the International Criminal Court (ICC), a decision reached by the Chief Executive a week after exhaustive discussions with members of his legal team.

The word coming from the Palace is that the discussion focused on the ICC’s investigation of the Duterte administration’s campaign against illegal drugs which — as 8+d States — can be expected to result, as it has indeed resulted, in both drug personalities and law enforcement personnel getting killed.

That’s the nature of drug ops that those imperious, self-important people at the ICC can never hope to understand, perched as they are on their thrones inside their glass castle: That people do get killed when members of drug syndicates and their minions, down to street-level pushers, arm themselves with guns with the intent to kill those who want to arrest them.

ICC prosecutors should get through their thick skulls the fact that in April this year, or two months before Duterte completed his six-year term, the government cleared of drugs 25,061 of the total 42,045 barangays across the nation. Likewise, based on the Real Numbers culled by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), government forces conducted 236,620 drug stings resulting in the arrest of 341,494 suspects, including 15,096 of the so-called high-value targets, the drug lords now behind bars.

If there are things that need to be said about the total 6,248 individuals killed in the campaign of the Duterte government against illegal drugs, it’s that, number one, included in that total were policemen and other anti-drug operatives who paid the ultimate price — with their lives — to keep drugs off the streets; and, number two, that the total is dwarfed by what has been accomplished as previously mentioned.

We can go as far as cite the figures on people killed in other countries to put into perspective that aspiration of governments to avert bloodshed in those drug ops, even if that is hoping against hope, and it’s more an issue of how best to minimize the loss of lives during such police actions.

As a final point on the 6,248 killed, for those whose deaths were attended by suspicious circumstances, charges had been filed against state forces who may have been overzealous in carrying out their duty. Certainly, a number of policemen and other anti-drug operatives have been jailed for those transgressions.

This brings us to the point that, aside from the country’s withdrawal from the ICC in 2019, that body can never acquire jurisdiction over the Philippines because the country has a fully functioning justice system.

Legal eagles led by chief presidential legal counsel Juan Ponce Enrile, Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra, Atty. Harry Roque and Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla can be surmised to have pointed this out to the President when they met to brainstorm and come up with a solid legal position to once and for all stop the ICC from meddling in Philippine affairs.

Mr. Marcos’ statement that the Philippines will not be “rejoining” the ICC anytime soon affirmed and should end any debate on the validity of Duterte’s move to withdraw the country from the ICC in March 2019.

Marcos’ decision put a foot down on the continuing intransigence of the ICC toward the Philippines when it issued an “order” dated 14 July imposing an 8 September 2022 deadline to comment on the ICC’s planned reopening of Duterte’s drug war.

The Philippines’ withdrawal from the ICC was just another proof of the fact that the ICC has lost relevance since it began operations on 1 July 2002 upon the effectivity of the Rome Statute. As of March 2022, or 20 years since its creation, of the 123 ICC member states, 42 states have neither signed nor allowed themselves to be parties to the Rome Statute.

Many countries had stopped seeing the ICC based at The Hague as a “court of last resort” because of the obvious bias it has against non-European countries like the Philippines as seen from its prosecution of the indictment of mainly personalities from African countries.

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