The International Criminal Court (ICC) re-open investigation into crimes against humanity during the Duterte administration as the Philippine government failed to submit documents to support its request for deferral, such as the prosecution of those behind drug war killings, a lawyer said.

Speaking on the “Facts First” podcast with Christian Esguerra, Center for International Law’s Gilbert Andres said the suspension of the investigation was lifted after the March 2022 deadline was not met.

“Under Article 18 ng Rome Statute, merong power ang Office of the Prosecutor to actually request documents from the Philippine government to substantiate the request for deferral,” he said.

“If I’m not mistaken, March 30, 2022 dapat sinubmit na ng Philippine government yung mga evidential documents to show na talagang may investigation sa crimes against humanity,” said Andres.

The lawyer said the office asked for authority to reopen the investigation after finding that there was no prosecution of the crimes.

According to the ICC Office of the Prosecutor’s application, there were five factors supporting the need for the investigation.

Andres said these factors included the government’s failure to prove that there were investigations into the Davao killings, the occurence of crimes against humanity with respect to torture and inhumane acts, the involvement of high-level police and civilian officers in these crimes, vigilante killings, and whether or not there was an existing state policy implementing prosecutions. 

Due to the ICC’s temporal jurisdiction, the investigations will cover crimes from Nov. 11, 2011, when the country officially became a state party, until March 16, 2019, its withdrawal from the ICC.

“Titignan nila [yung] period kung kelan nagtake effect ‘yung pagiging party natin sa Rome Statute, which is Nov. 1, 2011, anything before that is not within the temporal jurisdiction. ‘Yung March 16, 2019 naman, ‘yun ‘yung nag take effect ‘yung withdrawal natin [from the ICC],” he explained.

Andres pointed out that even if the Philippine government had withdrawn as a state party, there is a “residual obligation” for a state to cooperate with the ICC, according to Article 127 (2) of the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the ICC.

The crimes being investigated by the ICC include not just the drug war during Duterte’s presidency alone, but also killings that occurred during his terms as mayor and vice mayor of Davao City. Mariel Natanawan, Andrei Joseph Duran, and J.T. Manalaysay