MANILA (UPDATE) - The International Criminal Court's proceedings can move up to the filing and confirmation of charges without the presence of the accused, one of its recently retired judges said Monday.
Malacañang has several times said President Rodrigo Duterte would not participate in the ICC investigation into his anti-narcotics campaign.
Former ICC judge Raul Cano Pangalangan said the ICC could bring witnesses to the Hague and conduct virtual testimonies.
"In the end, we still arrive at the same conclusion. Although the language is different for the two things--duty to cooperate and power to adjudicate--in the end, both obligations will survive the withdrawal," he told ANC's Headstart.
"This is quite an early stage of the proceedings and the case can move forward up to filing and confirmation of charges without the presence of the accused, if the accused refuses to take part."
The proceedings will stop if the accused "never gets into the custody of the court," he added.
Following the ICC Pre-Trial chamber's green light for the ICC Prosecutor's request to proceed with its investigation, evidence against individuals will be collected, according to Pangalangan.
"Assuming they now proceed with the investigation, this is the only time they will focus on individuals. Up to this stage, the focus was on what we call the Philippine situation. Now that there's an investigation, the end product, assuming there is enough evidence, will be of course charges against individuals," he said.
The ICC Prosecutor's investigation will cover killings under the drug war since Duterte assumed office in July 2016 until the Philippines' withdrawal from the Rome Statute on March 16, 2019.
It would also look into the killings in Davao City from Nov. 1, 2011 to June 30, 2016, when Duterte served as mayor and vice mayor.
"Ang paninindigan po ng Pilipinas, dahil hindi na nga po tayo kasapi sa Rome Statute ng International Criminal Court, wala po tayong obligasyon na makipag-cooperate ngayon," said Duterte's spokesman Harry Roque.
(The stand of the Philippines is because we are no longer part of the Rome Statute of International Criminal Court, we have no obligation to cooperate.)
The entry of ICC investigators into the Philippines "is a moot and academic question", he said.
"Habang nandiyan pa po si COVID, wala naman pong pupuwedeng pumasok dito kung hindi iyong mayroong mga long-staying visas," Roque noted.
(While COVID is here, no one can enter here, except those with long-staying visas.)
Roque, a lawyer, said he believed it would take a long time before the ICC could issue an arrest warrant. Due to prosecutors' case load, preliminary investigation typically takes years, he said.
"At lalung-lalo na po kung walang kooperasyon sa estado, pupuwede pong matulog iyang kasong iyan ‘til kingdom come," Roque said.
(And especially if there is no cooperation with the state, that case can sleep until kingdom come.)
"Kaya nga po ang aking suggestion, lahat ng ating mga kababayan na sa tingin nila ay nalabag ang kanilang karapatan, ihain po ang inyong mga complaint dito po sa Pilipinas ‘no, sa piskalya o kaya sa pulisya," he said.
(This is why my suggestion is, to all our compatriots who think their rights were violated, they should file complaints here in the Philippines, with prosecutors or the police.)