MANILA— The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Thursday said it would cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC) should it ask for assistance as it opens its investigation into President Rodrigo Duterte's bloody war on drugs.
"Should the ICC communicate and make specific requests, we will take that when we receive what the nature of the request are," CHR chairman Jose Luis Gascon told lawmakers during their budget deliberations at the House of Representatives appropriations panel.
According to Gascon, there is "no direct or immediate relationship" between them and the ICC, adding that they don't really have a role in the impending probe.
"There is no direct or immediate relationship of the work with the operations that will be undertaken by the Office of the Prosecutor as it conducts its investigation," Gascon explained.
The CHR chair added that in previous ICC investigations, the local human rights agency had "little, if at all" interaction with the international tribunal.
"We understand in previous investigations in other countries where there are also institutions like us, in the conduct of the investigation of the ICC there was very little, if at all, interaction... We will have to just wait and see if there will be a request," Gascon noted.
In a statement Wednesday night, the ICC announced its Pre-Trial Chamber has “granted” the ICC Prosecutor’s request to proceed with its probe of the the drug war in the Philippines from July 2016 when Duterte took office until March 16, 2019, when the Philippines’ withdrawal from the Rome Statute which created the ICC took effect.
The ICC has yet to announce when it would carry out its investigation. For CHR, Gascon said they remain committed to their mandate under the constitution.
"Our mandate is within the mandate of our constitution and our laws... We believe that it is important we can show we can exhaust all available national remedies to ensure accountability for violations are undertaken," Gascon told lawmakers.
Asked about their own investigation into Duterte's war on drugs, Gascon said as of now, they have "documented over 3,000 incidences of possible human rights violation in relation to the war on drugs that are currently at different stages of investigation."
Duterte has insisted he would not cooperate with the ICC investigation.