Philippines asked for comment on possible resumption of ICC drug war probe

Forensic pathologist Raquel Fortun examines the exhumed remains of a drug war victim in a stockroom at the University of the Philippines Manila, Philippines, September 16, 2021. Picture taken September 16, 2021. Fortun hopes her work serves as a step towards justice for families of drug war victims by determining how they died. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez
Forensic pathologist Raquel Fortun examines the exhumed remains of a drug war victim in a stockroom at the University of the Philippines Manila, Philippines, September 16, 2021. Picture taken September 16, 2021. Fortun hopes her work serves as a step towards justice for families of drug war victims by determining how they died. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is asking the Philippines and the victims of the drug war and their families to comment on the Office of the Prosecutor’s request to resume its investigation on former President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

In a seven-page order dated July 14, ICC’s Pre-Trial 1 Chamber has invited the Philippines to submit additional observations on Prosecutor Karim Khan’s position that his office be allowed to continue its probe after finding out that the Philippines has not acted upon any investigation on its “nationals or others within its jurisdiction” on crimes related to the drug war.

On June 24, Khan filed before the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber I an authorization to resume his office’s investigation into the drug war, noting that after a careful and thorough review of the information the Philippines has provided and other publicly available information, “I have concluded that the deferral request by the Philippines is not warranted and that the investigation should resume as quickly as possible.”

The said order was signed by ICC judges Péter Kovács, Reine Adélaïde Sophie Alapini-Gansou and María del Socorro Flores Liera, the same judges that gave the go-signal for the ICC prosecutor to begin its drug war probe September last year.

“The Chamber considers it appropriate to invite the Philippines to submit any additional observations arising from the Prosecutor’s Request,” the pre-trial chamber said. “If it wishes to do so, the Philippines must submit these additional observations by 8 September 2022 at the latest.”

The pre-trial chamber has likewise given Khan the chance to respond to the additional observations provided by the Philippines, but it has to be related to the facts whether the Philippine government has investigated or is investigating the crimes related to the case.

“The chamber does not deem it necessary to hold a hearing in addition to receiving further written observations from the Philippines, any reply from the Prosecutor and the views and concerns of the victims,” the ICC added.

Meanwhile, former Justice Secretary and now Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra said that the ICC prosecutor “should have waited” on the results of the Philippines own drug war probe, as “investigation of this magnitude and complexity cannot be finished in a few months.”

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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