Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said on Tuesday that he had decided to cut ties with the International Criminal Court (ICC) after the court denied the government’s appeal to cease a probe into his predecessor’s brutal war on drugs.
“At this point, we essentially are disengaging from any contact, from any communication,” Marcos told reporters, according to a state-run news agency.
Marcos said the Philippines “cannot cooperate with the ICC, considering the very serious questions about their jurisdiction and about what we consider to be interference and practically attacks on the sovereignty of the republic.”
The ICC stated in an eight-page decision [pdf] on Monday that it had rejected the Philippine government’s appeal because there was a lack of “persuasive reasons” for the court to halt the investigation.
The court said the government failed to explain how its claim of a lack of jurisdiction or a legal basis for resuming the probe would “defeat its very purpose and create an irreversible situation that could not be corrected.”
It also did not specify the “far-reaching and inimical consequences” the probe will have on suspects, witnesses, and victims, nor did it explain how the investigation would have “irreversible” consequences, the court stated.
Marcos said that his government has no further action regarding the appeal.
“We don’t have a next move. That is the extent of our involvement with the ICC. That ends all our involvement with the ICC because we can no longer appeal,” he stated.
“We have not been involved with the actual action. Merely as a comment, we would comment, and the appeal is part of a comment. But we have not appeared as a party in the ICC because we do not recognize the jurisdiction of the ICC,” Marcos added.
The Philippines filed an appeal on March 13 to overturn the ICC’s decision to resume an inquiry into the alleged killings and rights abuses committed during former President Rodrigo Duterte’s crackdown on drug dealers.
The ICC is a court of last resort when national authorities are unwilling or unable to investigate and prosecute crimes.
‘Step Toward Justice’
Carlos Conde, a senior Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch (HRW), hailed the ICC’s decision to resume its probe as “a step toward justice for the thousands of victims of Duterte’s murderous drug war.”
“President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. should recognize the suffering of the victims’ families and cooperate with the ICC investigation so that justice can be done,” Conde said in a statement on Feb. 13.
The ICC launched a full investigation into the drug war campaign in September 2021, but it was suspended two months later after the Philippines pledged to undertake its own investigation. ICC prosecutor Karim Khanin in June 2022, called for the ICC probe to restart.
The Philippines officially withdrew from the ICC on March 17, 2019, after the court began preliminary investigations into Duterte’s drug war for suspected human rights abuses.
While Marcos had ruled out rejoining the ICC, Khan has said that the court “retains jurisdiction” over alleged crimes that occurred while the Philippines was a party to the court from Nov. 1, 2011, to March 16, 2019.
According to HRW’s 2017 report, Duterte’s anti-drug campaign resulted in the deaths of over 12,000 Filipinos, with the Philippine National Police being responsible for 2,555 of these deaths.
“No evidence thus far shows that Duterte planned or ordered specific extrajudicial killings. But Duterte’s repeated calls for killings as part of his anti-drug campaign could constitute acts instigating law enforcement to commit the crime of murder,” it stated.