Manila, Philippines - The Nagkaisa Labor Coalition called on the Marcos Jr Administration to accept the International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation on the extra-judicial killings (EJKs) that happened during the anti-drug operations under the Duterte administration.
The biggest labor group in the country expressed its concern over the recent development that the Marcos administration or some of its officials have opposed the ICC's investigation into the EJKs from the drug war, calling it an "unwarranted and outrageous interference" into the country's sovereignty.
“We are disappointed with the recent manifestation of the House of representatives led by former former President and Senior Deputy Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and some lawmakers seemingly defending the anti-drug war of Duterte and the attendant EJKs. It was during her time that capital punishment was abolished, and this commitment to upholding human rights and the rule of law is a legacy that the Philippines must uphold,”
This move by lawmakers came after the ICC's pre-trial chamber recently authorized the resumption of an investigation into the killings under Duterte's drug war, since it's 'not satisfied that the Philippines is undertaking relevant investigations that would warrant a deferral of the Court's investigations on the basis of the complementarity principle.
Nagkaisa emphasized that the ICC's investigation into the extrajudicial killings is necessary to uphold the rule of law and ensure that justice is served.
We beg to disagree as the Philippines needs to comply with its treaty commitment which already forms part of our legal system despite withdrawal in 2019,” Nagkaisa said.
Nagkaisa stressed that the ICC Pre-trial chamber's authorization for the resumption of investigation is not a violation of Philippine sovereignty, but rather an exercise of its treaty obligation under the Rome Statute, which the Philippines ratified in 2011.
The Rome Statute provides that the ICC may investigate and prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and crimes of aggression.
"We are of the opinion the ICC's investigation is not a threat to Philippine sovereignty. Rather, it will strengthen respect for human rights in the country as well, as it is a legitimate exercise of the ICC of its mandate under the Rome Statute, to which the Philippines was once a signatory. It is also consistent with the country's obligations under the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (1969),” Nagkaisa added.
The subject of investigation covers cases from 2011 to 2018 when the country was still a member of the ICC. That period is covered by the jurisdiction of the ICC and the Philippine government has the obligation to cooperate and bring those responsible for EJKs to the bar of justice.
Nagkaisa also responded to concerns that the ICC's investigation would undermine the Philippine justice system.
“The ICC's intervention does not mean that the Philippine justice system is incapable of delivering justice. It only means that the ICC is stepping in, due to a special circumstance because the domestic justice system has failed to hold perpetrators accountable and provide justice for the victims of extra-judicial killings related to the anti-drug wars,” Nagkaisa added.
Nagkaisa urged the Philippine government to uphold its obligation to protect the human rights of its citizens and to work with the ICC during its investigation.
“We hold that EJKs are not state policy and those responsible for such killings be held accountable. In fact, capital punishment was abolished in the Philippines by Republic Act No. 9346, which was signed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on June 24, 2006. In line with the country's commitment to the abolition of the death penalty, the Philippines signed the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” Nagkaisa said.
The protocol commits its members to the abolition of the death penalty within their borders. The Optional Protocol was signed on September 20, 2006, and ratified on November 20, 2007.
The foregoing commitment demonstrates the Philippines' respect for human rights and the rule of law, which the ICC seeks to uphold in its investigation into extrajudicial killings.
"We hope that this administration will listen to our unsolicited advice and take the necessary actions to address this issue. It is only through accountability and justice that we can truly build a better society,” Nagkaisa said.
Last month, the government took a positive step towards achieving justice for victims of EJKs of workers in particular, by accepting the ILO High Level Tripartite Mission.
“We hope the government implements all of the recommendations of the ILO HLTM and give its commitment to serve justice for the slain workers and their families. Consistent with this commitment, it should also accept with open arms the ICC investigation,” Nagkaisa said.
The Nagkaisa is the broadest coalition of labor groups and workers' organizations in the Philippines, representing hundreds of thousands of workers across the country. It is committed to promoting the rights and welfare of Filipino workers, and to advancing their interests in the workplace and in society.