By John Victor D. Ordoñez, Reporter

THE INTERNATIONAL Criminal Court (ICC) on Tuesday rejected a Philippines appeal to suspend its probe of ex-President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s deadly drug war, paving the way for its prosecutor to later indict and order the arrest of local officials who aided the campaign.

In a court session in the Hague streamed live on the ICC website, Appeals Chamber Presiding Judge Marc Perrin de Brichambaut read the decision that said the Philippines had failed to convince the court that the ICC-Pre-Trial Chamber was wrong in allowing its prosecutor to continue the investigation.

He said the judges had rejected the Philippine plea in a 3-2 vote, concluding that the pre-trial chamber was right in allowing ICC Prosecutor Karim Ahmad A. Khan to resume his probe of the drug war that had killed thousands.

“The issue of the impact of the Philippines’ withdrawal from the Rome Statute and the court’s jurisdiction was neither properly raised nor adequately ventilated before the pre-trial chamber,” the ICC judge said.

“The appeals chamber, by majority, therefore considers that the chamber cannot entertain the Philippines’ appeal at this point.”

Mr. Brichambaut and Judge Gocha Lordkipanidze, who dissented said the pre-trial chamber erred in ruling that it had jurisdiction over the Philippines despite the country’s withdrawal from the ICC in 2018.

The two judges voted to ask the pre-trial chamber to withdraw its authorization for the ICC prosecutor to continue its probe of the drug war, the chamber’s presiding judge said.

The ICC had yet to upload a copy of the decision on its website.

In March, the United Nations-backed court based in the Hague denied the government’s request to stop the ICC Pre-Trial chamber from reopening its investigation of Mr. Duterte’s anti-illegal drug campaign.

The ICC said its investigation should not prevent the state from continuing its own probe of rogue cops in its deadly drug war.

Solicitor General Menardo I. Guevarra told reporters in a Viber message on Sunday officials who get charged would have to hire their own lawyers, noting that his office would only represent the state at the hearings.

He said the Philippines would assert its sovereignty and focus on its own investigation and prosecution of alleged abuses related to the anti-illegal drug campaign.

“On the part of the government, we can expect that they will not comply since the ruling administration is bent on keeping the alliance intact in the years to come,” Arjan P. Aguirre, who teaches political science at the Ateneo de Manila University, said in a Facebook Messenger chat.

“Only a coalition breakdown between the Marcoses and Dutertes can change this.”

Last year, President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. said the Philippines would not rejoin the ICC, which political experts said is meant to protect his predecessor from prosecution.

Mr. Duterte canceled the country’s ICC membership in 2018.

The ICC Pre-Trial Chamber in January reopened its probe of Mr. Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs, saying it was not satisfied with government efforts to probe human rights abuses.

It was also set to probe vigilante-style killings in Davao City when the former president was still its vice mayor and mayor.

Ephraim B. Cortez, president of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, said Mr. Khan would have to complete his investigation of the drug war before the pre-trial chamber can approve arrest warrants against people linked to the drug war.

“It is what the families of victims are waiting for,” he said in a Viber message. “The investigation will continue.”

The Hague-based tribunal, which tries people charged with crimes against humanity, genocide, war crimes and aggression, suspended its probe of the deadly drug war in 2021 upon the Philippine government’s request.

“The Marcos administration should back up its stated commitment to human rights and the fight against impunity by following through its international legal obligation to cooperate with the court’s investigation,” Byrony Lau, deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch, said in a tweet.

Human Rights group Karapatan said it was crucial for international bodies such as the ICC to seek accountability since the local justice system is ineffective.

“It is high time that the ICC investigation proceeds without a hitch so that the victims of Duterte’s bloody anti-drug war can finally tread the road towards justice and accountability,” it said in a statement.

On Feb. 16, Mr. Khan told the ICC the Philippines had not raised new arguments to justify halting the probe, adding that the Duterte government had condoned crimes committed during the drug war.

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin C. Remulla has said the international court did not have jurisdiction to investigate the killings, adding the government could probe human rights violations without its help.

Mr. Guevarra, who was Mr. Duterte’s Justice secretary, earlier said the country is not legally and morally bound to cooperate with the ICC.

The Philippines has accepted 200 recommendations from the United Nations Human Rights Council, including investigating extralegal killings and protecting journalists and activists.

The government estimates that at least 6,117 suspected drug dealers were killed in police operations. Human rights groups say as many as 30,000 suspects died.

“The ruling is a testament to the collective efforts of human rights advocates and organizations who have tirelessly fought for the recognition and redress of these atrocities,” Neri J. Colmenares, a former congressman who lawyers for victims of the drug war, said.