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Returning to the ICC

Human rights advocates recently called on the Marcos administration to restore the country’s membership in the International Criminal Court, which has been looking into the drug war of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte.

In 2018, after an ICC inquiry was started into his bloody drug war, Duterte ordered the country’s withdrawal from the Rome Statute, the United Nations treaty in 1998 which established it.

“Restoring the country’s membership in the ICC will not only bring positive impact to the country’s image, but it will also strengthen our defense against possible future acts of aggression by foreign countries and protect people from crimes against humanity committed by state forces,” said former Sen. Leila de Lima who remains detained on trumped up drug charges following her investigation into alleged human rights violations during Duterte’s watch as Davao City mayor.

Lawyer group Mananaggol Laban sa Extrajudicial Killings said the new President “should cooperate more closely with the ICC investigation, and, eventually, region the assembly of state parties.”

The group’s convenor, Tony La Viña, said it “firmly supports” the international court’s investigation into the drug war and other human rights violations in the country, as this “will achieve the ’high level of accountability’ that [Mr.] Marcos said he wants in human rights during a meeting with UN Resident Coordinator to the Philippines Gustavo Gonzalez.

The Philippines ratified the Rome Statute in 2011, after an 11-year process that outlasted three administrations, only to be unilaterally withdrawn during the Duterte administration after less than a decade. Now that a new administration has taken over and the world has seen its significance through its work investigating the horrendous war crimes committed by Russia in Ukraine, rejoining the Rome Statute should be an act worth considering.

The withdrawal of the Philippines from the Rome Statute was a retreat from the affirmation of the rule of law and justice in international affairs. Our country should take advantage of this opportunity to undo that hasty mistake that benefits only a few while encouraging impunity.*

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