Marcos, legal team discuss ICC drug war probe

President Bongbong Marcos delivers his first SONA, in Quezon City, Philippines.
Philippine President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. delivers his first State of the Nation Address (SONA), in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines, July 25, 2022. Aaron Favila/Pool via REUTERS

President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. has sought the wisdom of his legal team as to what his administration’s posture would be in relation to the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) investigation of former President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody drug war.

Present in the meeting were Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Juan Ponce Enrile, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla, Executive Secretary Vic Rodriguez, Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo, and former spokesperson Harry Roque.

Guevarra, who was Duterte’s Secretary of Justice, told reporters that the meeting’s “only agenda was the government’s position on the ICC investigation.” He declined to give further details, saying he’ll leave it to President Marcos for any more disclosure.

Roque, a former human rights lawyer, in a Facebook post revealed that he had been retained by President Marcos as a private counsel with a retainer fee of P20, and that all conversations he had with him on legal matters are covered by attorney-client confidentiality.

Meanwhile, Remulla said on Thursday (July 28) after a meeting with the Rotary Club of Manila that the ICC had no jurisdiction over the Philippines since it had already withdrawn its membership from the court.

“They say that they want to investigate crimes here in the country, but we have a functioning judicial system. It’s not perfect but it’s functioning,” he said.

“If they ask for a report, we will give them a report … out of our friendship with them, out of decency … But for us to say that we are under them, I think, is another matter. This has to be threshed out properly in international law,” Remulla added.

On June 24, ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan had filed before the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber I seeking authorization to resume his investigation into the drug war, saying that after a careful and thorough review of the information the Philippines has provided and other publicly available information, he deemed the deferral request not warranted and the investigation must resume as quickly as possible.

The pre-trial chamber has given the Philippines until September 8 to submit its position.

Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and creative writer who follows developments on politics, democracy, and popular culture. He advocates for a free press and national democracy. Follow him on Twitter at @marvs30ang for latest news and updates.

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