Don’t you re-member

China is not a member. Neither is India. (Although the joke may be made that its representative did not show up for the ratification. Nang-indian, get it?) Nor are regional powerhouses Israel and Russia, and the sole superpower, the United States. None of our ASEAN neighbors are members. So, why are so many people so hot when the Marcos government refused to return to it?

I am talking about the International Criminal Court, created by the Rome Statute, a multilateral treaty. Succinctly, it is a body tasked (nebulously) with investigating “genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression.” Thus far, more than 120 countries have signed on, mostly socialist European countries and teensy-weensy ones like Haiti, Kiribati, Lesotho and Djibouti.

We used to be a member, the only one in ASEAN, having ratified it in 2011, during the time of Benigno Simeon (which says a lot). That changed when Duterte, continuously piqued at what he saw as intervention in his war on drugs by the ICC’s prosecutor, withdrew from the ICC in 2019 without consulting the Senate. The Supreme Court, acting on a constitutional challenge posed by the political opposition, upheld the President’s action, saying the Chief Executive ALONE was the “chief architect” of the country’s foreign policy.

Recently, President Marcos broke a lot of bleeding hearts by announcing, in no uncertain terms that — after consulting with his legal team led by the Secretary of Justice — the Philippines is not going back to the ICC. This after loud and persistent calls from the usual suspects — leftist groups, leftist blocs in the legislature, and left-leaning international organizations — to undo what Duterte has wrought.

In so doing, Marcos has scored double points (not that I think he consciously intended to): First, he has shown to Duterte supporters that he will continue his predecessor’s policies when it serves the country well; and second, that the Marcos presidency will not succumb to pressure from the opposition just for the sake of “unity” when the country’s prestige and sovereignty is at stake.

Verily, those calling for the Philippines to reenter the Rome Statute are doing this nation a great disservice. They are, in effect, saying that our Judiciary and the investigative and prosecutory arms of the Executive cannot take care of domestic concerns regarding the weighty issue of supposed human rights violations without having to resort to a third party, a foreign entity at that, that knows nothing of the local situation and culture pertaining to the drug problem. Differently stated, these people are implying that strangers are better in probing and punishing Filipinos (our high-ranking leaders at that) than we ourselves. Such nonsense!

These “investigators” from the ICC, whenever they start an inquiry into any country, fly in with certain preconceived notions and stay a few weeks at most, interviewing only the noisiest ranters, who do not even represent the average citizen. Since the knowledge gained is superficial, they will not, and cannot, know that our country was on the verge of becoming a narco-state had not the descent into the abyss of addiction been arrested by a tough approach that resulted in the neutralization of drug syndicates and their ringleaders, and the incarceration of their conspirators in government. That is why these estrangeros cannot fathom why Duterte’s approval ratings have remained high all throughout his term of office, and up until today.

While his legal team would understandably not disclose what advice they gave the President (the same being privileged), President Marcos must be given plaudits for his maturity in not playing to the hooting throng of phony patriots that is now the political opposition. It was truly gutsy for him, when asked whether the country should “re-member,” to have answered in effect: FORGET IT!

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