The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) called President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s decision to keep the Philippines out of the International Criminal Court (ICC) unfortunate, citing the thousands killed due to the previous administration’s war on drugs.

In explaining his decision, Marcos Jr. said the country already had an ongoing investigation on alleged abuses under former president Rodrigo Duterte.

“The [CHR] respects the prerogative of the president in deciding not to rejoin the ICC,” CHR spokeswoman Jacqueline de Guia said in a statement.

“This move, however, is unfortunate when viewed from the human rights perspective given the calls from both domestic and international fronts seeking truth and accountability for the thousands of deaths allegedly linked to the previous administration’s campaign against illegal drugs,” she added.

The ICC in September 2021 greenlit a probe as there was “reasonable basis” to believe that a crime against humanity had been committed in the Philippines between July 1, 2016 and March 16, 2019 in the context of Duterte’s deadly campaign against drugs.

The Philippines pulled out from the Rome Statute, which established the ICC, in March 2019, after it launched a preliminary examination of Duterte’s bloody war on drugs.

Since his stint as Davao mayor, Duterte has been vocal about killing criminals to rid the country of illegal drugs.

De Guia said being part of the ICC would have been a strong mark of the government’s commitment to ensuring that there will always be a remedy for human rights violations and the protection of present and future generations of Filipinos.

“Human rights, as well as the pursuit of truth and justice, will continue to be an international concern, as evidenced by the growing attention on current humanitarian crises, such as the Russian aggression against Ukraine,” she said. John Ezekiel J. Hirro