A PHILIPPINE congressman on Wednesday said that the International Criminal Court (ICC) could investigate the past administration’s deadly “war on drugs,” as a 2017 complaint filed against former president Rodrigo R. Duterte was under the time when the ICC had jurisdiction over the country.

“The jurisdiction of the ICC on covered crimes committed in the Philippines spans the period from Nov. 1, 2011 to March 16, 2019,” Albay Rep. Edcel C. Lagman told the House joint committees on human rights and justice.

He noted that the Philippines first acceded to the Rome Statute, the ICC’s treaty, on Nov. 11, 2011, and formally withdrew on March 17, 2018. Under the Article 127 of the Rome Statue, the country’s withdrawal became effective a year after the filing, or on March 17, 2019.

Mr. Lagman said a verified complaint against Mr. Duterte and others for “purportedly committing crimes against humanity in the wake of the Duterte’s campaign against dealers and users of illegal drugs,” was filed on April 24, 2017.

“In other words, the complaint was filed when the ICC still had jurisdiction,” he said.

Mr. Lagman said he filed his own resolution asking the Philippine government to cooperate with the ICC’s probe on Mr. Duterte’s drug war.

He noted that the Philippine Supreme Court on July 22, 2021 ruled that the Philippines is obliged to cooperate with the ICC’s criminal proceedings in its investigation of the drug war.

“The subsequent withdrawal of the Philippines did not retroact and was continuing its jurisdiction up to March 16, 2019,” Mr. Lagman told reporters on the sidelines of the hearing.

Mr. Duterte’s successor and ally, President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., earlier said the ICC has no jurisdiction over the Philippines, which formally withdrew from the body in March 2019.

The committees were deliberating on two House resolutions urging the Marcos administration to cooperate with the ICC’s investigation of Mr. Duterte’s drug war.

“By cooperating with the International Criminal Court, even after our withdrawal from the Rome Statute, we demonstrate that no one is above the law, and that we are accountable for our actions,” said Manila Rep. Bienvenido M. Abante, Jr., one of the authors of House Resolution (HR) No. 1477.

Deputy Minority Leader and Party-list Rep. France L. Castro, one of the authors of HR 1393, noted that while death penalty has long been scrapped in the Philippines, thousands were killed under Mr. Duterte’s anti-drug campaign without due process.

However, Senator Maria Imelda “Imee” R. Marcos, the President’s sister, reiterated her previous comments that the Philippines has a good justice system, and will not cooperate with the ICC.

Human rights group Karapatan said the resolutions “are expressions of widespread public sentiment” against the drug war as well as its enablers and perpetrators.

Another joint hearing will be conducted to invite more resource persons. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz