In the Philippines, the discourse around rejoining the International Criminal Court (ICC) has regained momentum. Retired Supreme Court Justice and former Ombudsman, Conchita Carpio-Morales, has voiced her endorsement, emphasizing the significance of ICC affiliation as a fallback when national jurisdiction fails to address illegal activities. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has signaled that authorities are contemplating reentering the ICC, which is presently examining the drug war launched by his predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte.
The Duterte Legacy and ICC Withdrawal
During Duterte's tenure, the Philippines seceded from the ICC in 2019, following the initiation of a preliminary investigation by the court into the anti-drug crusade that led to thousands of fatalities. The international treaty Rome Statute, which established the ICC, was renounced without Senate concurrence. The departure revolved around the ICC's probe into Duterte's links to the Davao Death Squad (DDS), a vigilante group allegedly responsible for summary executions in Davao City.
Debate on Rejoining the ICC
The current dialogue revolves around whether executive action by President Marcos Jr. is sufficient for the Philippines to reenter the ICC, or if Senate approval is necessary once again. Legal and political figures are divided on this issue. Adding complexity to the situation, Duterte's daughter, Vice President Sara Duterte, has raised several legal objections to rejoining the ICC in a letter to the Department of Justice, which is still weighing on the matter.
Significance of ICC Membership
Established in 2002, the ICC is the sole enduring court for war crimes and crimes against humanity. It aims to prosecute the most heinous offences when national courts are incapable or unwilling to do so. The Marcos administration's current stance towards the ICC indicates a potential shift in the Philippines' international legal obligations and recognition of the court's jurisdiction. This development could have profound implications for the nation's position on human rights and justice, especially in light of the controversial drug war initiated by Duterte.