MANILA - Bayan Muna chairperson Neri Colmenares on Friday refuted claims that the recent International Criminal Court (ICC) report over alleged crimes against humanity in the Philippines linked to the administration's drug war was one-sided.
Interviewed on ANC's "Matters of Fact," the human rights lawyer, who helped craft one of the complaints filed before the Hague-based tribunal, said the Duterte administration has no one to blame but itself.
"The ICC really made sure that all evidence available are there before the report. That's why it took some time for this report to be finalized," Colmenares said.
"All the processes were respected. It’s just the fact that the President [Rodrigo Duterte] did not want to answer it. Now, he claims that it’s one-sided. It's actually his fault because he didn’t submit any evidence."
Colmenares is part of the legal counsel of Rise Up for Life and for Rights, a coalition of families affected by the drug-related killings.
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), in response to the ICC report finding "reasonable basis" to believe that crimes against humanity were committed in the bloody drug war, said it was "grossly unfair and one-sided."
The anti-drug agency said the international court relied on "open-source information" and could have waited for the Department of Justice (DOJ) to finish its investigation on the incidents.
However, Colmenares said the ICC Office of Prosecutor also used records from the Philippine National Police (PNP) on how many were killed in the "vicious" years-long, anti-drugs campaign.
"The ICC, in fact, also gathered evidence from the government side even if the government did not send it through their official pronouncements, and of course, the human rights organizations, by monitoring the media and so on. So, it’s not really just a one-sided thing," he said.
While the Philippines withdrew from the international tribunal in March 2019, Colmenares said the Philippine government could not afford not to participate in the proceedings.
Under court rules, any country's withdrawal from the ICC will only take effect a year later, he said.
"Why did the Rome Statute put that in place? To avoid a situation where the President is charged before the ICC and tomorrow, he or she will withdraw to the detriment of the ICC because otherwise whose charged with ICC will say we'll withdraw tomorrow," Colmenares added.
The Philippines moved to quit after the ICC launched a preliminary examination in 2018 into Duterte's drug crackdown that has killed thousands and drawn international censure.
Should the ICC prosecutor wish to conduct full investigation on the incidents, Colmenares said they would seek protection of the witnesses and possible reparation of the families of the victims.
"We expect threats from among the accused against us... Hopefully, the ICC will take cognizance of those prayers," he said.
In response to the ICC report, Duterte's aides accused the body of playing politics in "an attempt to besmirch the reputation and popularity" of the President.