MANILA — Presidential Chief Legal Counsel Juan Ponce Enrile on Monday said he would move for the arrest of International Criminal Court (ICC) investigators coming to the Philippines to probe the Duterte administration's war on drugs if they do not seek prior permission from the government.
The Philippines “will not allow any of our officials to be investigated or tried by the International Criminal Court,” Enrile told reporters on the sidelines of an event in Pasay City.
“As lawyer of the President, as far as I am concerned, I do not recognize the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court of Justice. They have no sovereign power over us,” said Enrile, who previously served as Senate President.
“If they will come here, if I were to be followed, I will cause their arrest. They interfere too much in our internal affairs,” he said.
“We do not have an uncivilized judicial system. I will not allow them to come here to the country to investigate here. They have to ask permission,” he added.
Last week, the ICC said it would resume investigations into the extrajudicial killings during former President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs.
The ICC’s probe was halted during Duterte’s term, after the 16th President of the Philippines pulled the country out of the ICC in 2019, and instead launched government-led investigations into possible irregularities committed during the drug war.
Government data showed that 6,181 people were killed in Duterte's war on drugs but human rights groups have questioned the figure, claiming that up to 30,000 may have been killed, including bystanders and innocent civilians.
Enrile defended Duterte’s war on drugs, saying that the former President was acting within the bounds of the Philippine Constitution.
“He is acting under the Constitution of the country to enforce the law. That is his oath,” the Presidential Chief Legal Counsel said.
When asked if Marcos Jr. shares his opinion, Enrile said that he and the current president have yet to discuss the topic.
“Hindi namin pinag-uusapan iyon (we don't talk about that). That is a non-issue,” he said.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) earlier maintained that the Philippine government can conduct its own probe into the drug war, saying that it has created a special task force to do a deeper investigation into these cases.
“We are doing a genuine investigation on the killings from 2016 up to 2019 or even up to the end, 2022. If there’s a working justice system, then the ICC cannot come in and supplant or substitute our working justice system with their own, dahil gumagana naman (because it is working),” DOJ spokesperson Mico Clavano said.