President Marcos’ Dilemma: Balancing the ICC and Philippine Justic…

In a move raising questions about the legality of potential executive action, Harry Roque, a prominent figure, has suggested that President Bongbong Marcos issue a formal order directing the Philippine National Police (PNP) to ignore or not enforce any warrants of arrest issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

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Crimes Against Humanity and the ICC Dilemma

The debate arises as crimes against humanity, including murder, were already criminalized in the Philippines before its membership in the ICC in 2011 through Republic Act 9851. This law implements the principle of ‘reverse complementarity,’ allowing the Philippine authorities to forego investigations or prosecutions if another court or international tribunal is handling the case. However, no investigations or prosecutions under RA 9851 for crimes against humanity related to Oplan Tokhang have been initiated.

Balancing the Scales of Justice

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By not actively mirroring the ICC’s investigation, the government may comply with Section 17 of RA 9851, which states that “if the International Criminal Court is already exercising jurisdiction, the Court shall defer to the International Criminal Court.” The President may not obstruct an ICC warrant without violating the spirit of this law, as it specifically provides for the complementarity of jurisdictions.

The Distinction Between Common Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity

Harry Roque’s suggestion highlights the distinction between common crimes like murder and crimes against humanity. Emphasizing the need for proper investigation and prosecution under special penal legislation, RA 9851 penalizes international crimes in addition to common crimes. It includes provisions regarding the investigation and prosecution of such crimes, ensuring that the most serious offenses are met with the appropriate legal response.

In conclusion, the President must weigh the implications of any executive order that would prevent the enforcement of ICC warrants. Upholding the rule of law requires consideration of the Philippines’ commitment to the ICC and the principles outlined in RA 9851. The government must ensure that crimes against humanity are properly investigated and prosecuted, whether by domestic courts or international tribunals.

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