Opposition leaders on Friday called on new Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to reinstate the country’s membership in the International Criminal Court to strengthen defenses against human rights abuses.
Former President Rodrigo Duterte, whose six-year term ended on Thursday, withdrew the country’s ratification of the Rome Statute, the treaty that created the ICC, in 2019 after the court in The Hague launched a preliminary examination of thousands of murders during his campaign against illegal drugs.
Critics said Duterte’s decision was an attempt to evade responsibility. However, the ICC prosecutor said the court still had jurisdiction over the alleged crimes while the Philippines was still a member of the court.
“The more we are members of communities of shared human rights values, the better,” said Senator Risa Hontiveros, citing the prevalence of rights violations and extrajudicial killings in the country.
Former detained senator Leila de Lima said restoring ICC membership would improve the country’s image and “protect people from crimes against humanity committed by state forces.”
There was no immediate reaction from Marcos Jr.
De Lima, one of the fiercest critics of Duterte’s anti-drug campaign, has been detained for five years on drug charges she says were fabricated by Duterte and his supporters to muzzle her and threaten death. other reviews.
Arturo Lascanas, a retired police officer who previously served under Duterte when he was mayor of the southern city of Davao, said up to 10,000 drug suspects may have been killed in the city during the Duterte’s drug crackdown.
Duterte expanded the crackdown nationwide after becoming president in mid-2016. Officials reported that more than 6,250 suspects were killed during his presidency.
Duterte denied authorizing the extrajudicial executions but openly threatened the drug suspects with death.
Lascanas, who has been in hiding outside the Philippines, said in a video interview that he was ready to testify in a possible trial at the ICC and prove that Duterte ordered and financed numerous killings in Davao. Lascanas said he and other Davao police were involved in killings ordered by Duterte.
An ICC investigation into the killings as a possible crime against humanity was suspended in November after the Duterte administration said it was carrying out its own investigation into the police. But the ICC’s chief prosecutor recently asked the court to allow an immediate resumption of the investigation.
The ICC is a court of last resort for crimes that countries are unwilling or unable to prosecute themselves. It was officially created 20 years ago, on July 1, 2022.
Edre Olalia of the National Union of Peoples Lawyers, a group of human rights lawyers, said Marcos Jr. was unlikely to agree to reinstate the country’s membership in the ICC.
The president, who was sworn in on Thursday, is the son of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, whose rule was marked by massive rights abuses and looting. He was ousted in a pro-democracy uprising in 1986.
He and new vice president Sara Duterte, the former president’s daughter, stood up for the legacy of their fathers.
“We think that’s a long shot under the current political dispensation,” Olalia said.
The Independent Gt