MANILA - Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso on Wednesday said that the International Criminal Court (ICC) is welcome to investigate in the Philippines if he wins the presidency next year.
In the run-up to the May 2022 elections, voters have been asking about the willingness of presidential aspirants to grant ICC investigators access to government records of President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs.
"Wala tayong itatago. Sokpa sila dito. Mag-imbestiga sila dito," Domagoso, the standard bearer of Aksyon Demokratiko, told TeleRadyo's "Ikaw Ang On The Spot: The Presidential Candidate's Interview."
(We will not hide anything from them. They can come here to investigate.)
"Kapag may nagkasala, papanagutin natin sa mata ng batas," he said.
(If someone violated the law, we will hold them accountable under the law.)
In June, the ICC prosecutor's office called on families of victims of Duterte's drug war to submit their statements as the investigating panel began collecting information.
Malacañang said the Philippines will not cooperate with the ICC, and its investigators would not be permitted to enter the country to conduct the investigation, noting that it already backed out from the international court's founding treaty as early as 2018.
The ICC said it has jurisdiction for crimes committed between 2016 and 2019, before the Philippines finalized its withdrawal from the Rome Statute.
If elected president, Domagoso said he is willing to let the country be part of the ICC again, a position also held by his fellow 2022 presidential hopefuls Sen. Panfilo "Ping" Lacson and labor leader Leody De Guzman.
Other aspirants, such as Vice President Leni Robredo and Sen. Manny Pacquiao, have also said the country should let the ICC proceed with its probe.
But Domagoso said the international community must also respect the Philippines' rights under the other treaties it has joined.
"Kapag ako sasali sa agree-agreement, that includes ICC, ano ang kapakinabangan namin bilang Pilipino, bilang bansang Pilipinas?" he said.
(If I were to join agreements, including for the ICC, we have to ask first what benefit it would bring to Filipinos or to the Philippines?)
"Hindi yung masali lang, yung mema? 'Yung pustu-pusturang wala namang magagawa," he added.
(I don't want to join treaties for the sake of joining. I don't like useless posturing.)
Domagoso noted that he was disappointed by the lack of support the Philippines received from the international community amid Chinese incursions and bullying in the West Philippine Sea.
"These are same treaties, pero iba lang yung (but under a different) field of undertaking," he said.
"Ngayon nga aping-api tayo sa Hague ruling (We are being bullied despite the Hague ruling). Did they talk about us? Do they care about us?" he said.
The United States, Australia, Japan, France, Germany, and European Union have expressed concern over China's recent attack on Filipino supply boats at the Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea, stressing the importance of peace and stability in the region, and of adhering to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the 2016 arbitral ruling on the South China Sea.
The Philippines should be wiser in choosing which agreements to join, Domagoso said.
In 2016, a Hague-based court invalidated China's sweeping claims in the South China Sea, within which is the West Philippine Sea.
Several countries have called on China to honor the arbitral award, but Duterte did not enforce it, saying that the Philippine military is no match for the weapons and equipment of the world's second largest economy.
He also forged friendlier relations with China to get economic aid and investments.
Although, in September, he said no country "can diminish" the importance of the South China Sea arbitral award.