The International Criminal Court (ICC) has suspended its investigation into President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war upon the request of the Philippine government.

Philippine Ambassador to the Netherlands J. Eduardo Malaya requested the deferment of the ICC’s investigation on Nov. 10.

ICC chief prosecutor Karim Khan granted the country’s request on Nov. 18.

“The prosecution has temporarily suspended its investigative activities while it assesses the scope and effect of the deferral request,” Khan said.

“The prosecution will, however, continue its analysis of information already in its possession as well as of any new information it may receive from third parties, and actively assess the need for applications to the pre-trial chamber for authority to conduct necessary investigative steps for the preservation of evidence under Article 18(6) of the Statute,” he added.

Reacting to the ICC’s move, Malacañang asserted that the international body had no jurisdiction over the Philippines.

“This, however, does not preclude the government from communicating with the ICC, and it should be stressed that the government’s communication to the ICC was conditioned on the fact that in making that communication the Philippine government was not waiving its position regarding the ICC’s lack of jurisdiction,” acting Palace spokesman Karlo Nograles said.

“In any event, we welcome the judiciousness of the new ICC prosecutor, who has deemed it fit to give the matter a fresh look and we trust that the matter will be resolved in favor of the exhonoration of our government and the recognition of the vibrancy of our justice system,” he added.

The ICC in September 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. John Ezekiel J. Hirro