Philippines appeals ICC decision to proceed with probe into Duterte’s drug war

Jojo Riñoza
Philippines appeals ICC decision to proceed with probe into Duterte’s drug war A Philippine police investigator inspects a crime scene after two suspected drug pushers were gunned down during an anti-narcotics operation in Manila, Sept. 25, 2016.
Luis Liwanag/BenarNews

The Philippines has formally appealed to the International Criminal Court to overturn its decision to allow an ICC prosecutor to press on with investigating the drug war under former President Rodrigo Duterte that left thousands of people dead. 

In its appeal, a copy of which was released Wednesday, the Philippine government maintained that it “disagrees with” and “rejects” the Jan. 26 decision by the ICC, which is based in The Hague, Netherlands.

“The appeal is against the whole decision,” read the Philippines’ official document, dated Feb. 3 and signed on behalf of the government by Solicitor General Monardo Guevarra.

In late 2021, when Duterte was still in power, the world court suspended its probe into extrajudicial killings committed during his administration’s crackdown on illegal drugs, after Manila requested a deferral because of its own investigations into the killings.

But in authorizing the ICC prosecutor to resume the investigation, the court argued that various “initiatives and proceedings relied on by the Philippines do not amount to tangible, concrete and progressive investigative steps being carried out” by Manila into the killings linked to Duterte’s drug war.

An old van converted into a coffee shop on wheels is parked in the compound of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in the Manila district of Baclaran, Feb. 8, 2023. Relatives of Filipinos slain during the drug war by former President Rodrigo Duterte operate the mobile coffee shop, whose proceeds help other affected families. [Jojo Riñoza/BenarNews]

“The Philippine Government disagrees with, and hereby rejects, the Pre-Trial Chamber I’s conclusions,” Guevarra’s appeal partly stated.

“The relief being sought is a reversal of the decision and the denial of the OTP’s request to resume investigation regarding the Situation in the Republic of the Philippines,” he stressed, referring to the ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor (OTP).

Dr. Aurora Parong, co-chairperson of the Philippine Coalition on the ICC, said that Guevarra appeared to be using a tactic to delay “the quest for justice”of families of victims of the drug war under Duterte.

The move, Parong said, “serves as an obstacle to efforts for justice at the International Criminal Court while domestic efforts to deliver justice remain very inadequate.”

“The Philippine government's appeal at the ICC doused cold water to the ray of hope for justice at the international court among the families of the tens of thousands killed in the war on drugs,” she said.

More than 8,000 suspected drug addicts and dealers were killed when Duterte launched his drug war after he became president in 2016. He actively told members of the police force that he would protect them from prosecution if they were charged, as long as the deaths occurred while they were performing their mandate as law enforcement officers.

During his term (2016-2022), Duterte also withdrew the Philippines from an international treaty that created the ICC, and he repeatedly argued that he would not allow himself to be subjected to an international trial. 


Add your comment by filling out the form below in plain text. Comments are approved by a moderator and can be edited in accordance with RFAs Terms of Use. Comments will not appear in real time. RFA is not responsible for the content of the postings. Please, be respectful of others' point of view and stick to the facts.