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Drug war victims see officials against rejoining ICC all about ‘politics, self-preservation,’ lawyer says

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 29) — A lawyer representing some of the Duterte administration's drug war victims on Wednesday said those against the rejoining of the Philippines in the International Criminal Court (ICC) are only protecting themselves as possible respondents to the case.

“They see this as politics and self-preservation. In the end what they really want is what is happening, why are we addressing, again, issues of jurisdiction when the ICC has already decided to proceed with the investigation,” lawyer Kristina Conti, the secretary general of National Union of Peoples Lawyers (NUPL)-NCR, told CNN Philippines’ The Source.

The court in July said it is pushing through with its investigation of the Duterte administration's drug war after its Appeals Chamber rejected the plea of the Philippine government against the resumption of the probe.

Marcos maintained the ICC has no jurisdiction over the Philippines after his predecessor Rodrigo Duterte withdrew the country’s membership, which took effect in 2019. Still, he said his administration is also looking into possibly rejoining the court.

Conti, who is also assistant to counsel at the ICC, said the tribunal is currently processing information it has so far received, which includes testimonials from the NUPL. She noted returning as a member state is vital to continue the case and bring those accused to trial.

“Rejoining the ICC is an important issue again with regard to obligations that we are not beholden to as of now, such as execution or implementation of a warrant of arrest. Meaning, right now even if there will be persons identified to stand trial for crimes against humanity in the Philippines, if no one will arrest them and take them to The Hague for trial, the case won’t proceed,” she explained.

“Taking them into custody will require the police of a member state to do that,” she added.

Rejoin or rescind?

Conti said the country’s membership in the ICC will now be up to Marcos. He can either rejoin, which “would be considered a treaty which would need Senate concurrence,” or “rescind the withdrawal – use the previous Senate concurrence to uphold joining the ICC,” she said.

The lawyer