Statement: On the Request of the Office of the ICC Prosecutor to Open an Investigation on the Situation in the Philippines

15 June 2021 –  The Philippine Government finds deeply regrettable the announcement of the outgoing Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to seek judicial authorization to proceed with an investigation of the Situation in the Philippines.

The Philippine Government wishes to underscore that the Inter-Agency Review Panel headed by the Secretary of Justice was established to reinvestigate cases involving fatalities in the campaign against illegal drugs, and said Panel is continuing its work, and should be allowed to finish such work. 

The International Criminal Court is a court of last resort.  The States Parties to the Rome Statute envisioned a court with a complementary, not primary, jurisdiction for the prosecution of the persons most responsible for the most serious crimes of international concern.  The Rome Statute requires the Court and the Office of the Prosecutor to respect and defer to the primary criminal jurisdiction of concerned State Party, while proceedings are ongoing in the latter. The precipitate move of the Prosecutor is a blatant violation of the principle of complementarity, which is a bedrock principle of the Rome Statute.

The Philippine Government has taken concrete and progressive steps to address concerns in the conduct of the anti-illegal drugs campaign and has recently finalized with the UN a Joint Program on Human Rights.

All these affirm the Philippines’ adherence to human rights norms and its long track record of constructive engagement with international and regional partners in human rights promotion and protection. 

The midnight announcement by the current Prosecutor on the eve of her end of term also preempts the prerogative of her successor to make a full evaluation of the cases that he will prosecute. By her act, the outgoing Prosecutor likewise undercuts the attractiveness of the Rome Statute to States that may be considering accession. END