MANILA, Philippines — The Justice Department is gathering information on former President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war campaign after the International Criminal Court’s pre-trial chamber asked the Philippine government to comment on the prosecutor’s request. ICC Karim Khan to take over the investigation, DOJ Secretary Jesus Crispin told Rémulla.
“We are busy gathering data and the results of ongoing investigations into the war on drugs,” Remulla told reporters yesterday in a Viber message when asked about the DOJ’s approach to the ICC’s request asking the government to comment on the possible resumption of the investigation of Duterte’s War on Drugs.
Remulla added that they will also meet with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to discuss the issue.
But he recently said in an interview that the Philippines could not be investigated by the ICC over the alleged killings in Duterte’s drug war campaign since the country is no longer a member of the criminal court. , having officially left the court in March 2019.
“First of all, we are no longer a member of the ICC. We have withdrawn our membership. This is probably something that we will put in the discussion because if they enter our country, what will be their reason if we are no longer part of the International Criminal Court? he says in Filipino in a TV interview.
If the Philippines becomes a member of the ICC again, Remulla said they will have to consider the matter carefully as he stressed that he did not yet know what the policy would be, but that they were sure to strengthen the country’s judicial system.
“Why should others dominate us or criticize what we do? Don’t we have our own system to enforce our laws? This is why I will not include the ICC in the initial discussions as we are not members,” he added.
The ICC recently invited the Philippine government to provide “additional observations” by September 8, 2022 following Khan’s request to resume the investigation into Duterte’s war on drugs, which left more than 6,000 dead. in six years. He also invited victims of the war on drugs and their lawyers to observe the proceedings.
Home Secretary Benhur Abalos, meanwhile, is urging local government units (LGUs) to employ strategies to avoid technicalities and improve the conviction rate of criminal cases in the country.
The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) said Abalos would appeal to the League of Cities of the Philippines made up of mayors of cities and municipalities across the country to help address the issue.
Abalos said LGUs can be creative and resourceful in helping support the country’s criminal justice system.
Earlier, the DOJ said the conviction rate for drug cases stood at a meager 21% of the total 291,393 cases filed since 2016.
He noted that technicalities regarding compulsory testimony have prevented conviction in drug cases and could be resolved by LGUs.
“So if you look at the cases that are being stocked, many are dismissed for lack of witnesses. If we wait for the law to be changed, it will take time,” he said in a mixture of English and Filipino.
The former mayor of Mandaluyong said that while he was at city hall, they assigned an employee to act as a witness during drug raids.
“I will ask the mayors and also other officials that maybe they can do this to help in these cases because most of them are fired… This is just one case where the law created is a bit difficult but we have to find a way (to implement it),” he added.
The head of the DILG has already ordered the retraining of more than 22,000 police investigators to improve their abilities and skills to improve the conviction rate.
“Police investigation is an essential part of law enforcement, as this single act will determine whether the case will be dismissed or not. It is important that our police investigators are familiar with criminal law and criminal procedures so that ‘they can conduct an effective and efficient investigation,’ Abalos said.
He noted that part of the DILG and DOJ’s plan to improve the justice system is to have law enforcement officers and prosecutors work together to minimize crime.
Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) is committed to working with government agencies to improve its conviction rate of criminals arrested in the course of law enforcement operations.
The officer in charge of the PNP, Lt. Gen. Vicente Danao, said yesterday that he welcomes the support of the DOJ and DILG in addressing the issues that continue to plague the resolution of cases.
“An integral part of the career growth of our officers is training them on how to handle investigations and build strong cases. We are committed to becoming better at this aspect so that justice can truly be served,” Danao said in a statement.
Remulla, at a press conference on Thursday, stressed the need for police and prosecutors to act in harmony so that cases filed at the prosecutor’s level are appreciated. –Romina Cabrera, Emmanuel Tupas