JUSTICE Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla yesterday said the release of former Senator Leila de Lima on bail in connection with the illegal drug charges filed against her only strengthened the position of the Department of Justice (DOJ) against the interference of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the investigation of the deaths related to the anti-illegal drug campaign of the Duterte administration.
At a press briefing, Remulla said De Lima’s release only proves that the justice system in the country is functioning.
He also maintained that the ICC has lost jurisdiction over the country following former President Duterte’s decision to withdraw as a member-state of the ICC.
“Our justice system is working, it was proven when De Lima was allowed to post bail,” Remulla said.
De Lima, who was charged with three illegal drug cases during the previous administration, was allowed to post bail last Monday by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Muntinlupa City in her last remaining case.
Remulla also shot down the possibility of using the Supreme Court’s 2021 ruling that dismissed for being moot and academic the petitions to declare null and void President Duterte’s unilateral decision to withdraw from the Rome Statute of the ICC, as basis to allow the ICC investigation.
It can be recalled that the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives has called on the government to support the investigation on the deaths related to Duter’s anti-illegal drug war campaign.
In response Remulla said the DOJ would look into the basis of the Makabayan bloc in coming up with House Resolution 1393 urging the government to cooperate with the ICC.
He also said the DOJ will review existing jurisprudence issued by the SC in connection with the ICC’s jurisdiction over the Philippines.
He said the DOJ would review whether the 2021 Court ruling which states “withdrawing from the Rome Statute does not discharge a state party from obligations it has incurred as a member” is merely an “obiter dictum” or merely an opinion.
Based on his study, Remulla stressed that the said part of the ruling was just an obiter dictum and cannot be used as basis to allow the ICC investigation.
“I said before that I would review the legal precedent, I conducted a review and that’s my findings,” Remulla pointed out.
Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, on the other hand, maintained that the country has an obligation to cooperate with the ICC for acts committed before its withdrawal from the ICC.
“So I will just cite the Supreme Court ‘s decision. We have the obligation to cooperate because these are crimes which were allegedly committed before we withdrew (from the Rome Statute). It’s our obligation. I am just quoting the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision,” Carpio said.
Meanwhile, Remulla dismissed the call of a United Nations expert on climate change and human rights recommending the abolition of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).
Remulla was referring to the call of visiting UN Rapporteur Ian Fry whose 10-day visit to the country ended yesterday.
“That is an internal mechanism of our government that’s why they should not interfere. They have no right to meddle on how we run our government,” he said.
Remulla said the creation of the NTF-ELCAC is one of the solutions to finally put an end to the long running communist insurgency that, he added, not only led to the deaths of thousands of Filipinos, but also derailed the development of communist-infested areas in the countryside.
Instead of the NTF-ELCAC, Fry suggested the establishment of a truth and reconciliation process “to deal with the harm that has been caused by the military in the community.”