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PNP to ICC: Respect PH sovereignty, justice system

MANILA: The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Monday called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to respect the country’s sovereignty and acknowledge the capacity of its judicial system.

PNP chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. made this remark after the ICC approved an investigation into the country’s anti-drug campaign under the administration of former President Rodrigo Duterte.

“The PNP has always maintained, that the Philippines has a robust, efficient, and functioning criminal justice system with active legal proceedings and remedies available to address any claim of human rights abuses in the government’s anti-illegal drug campaign. This is evidenced by ongoing investigations on all drug-related deaths and cases of successful prosecution of some government personnel involved in related crimes,” Azurin told reporters in a press briefing at Camp Crame.

He said there are administrative cases being handled by the PNP Internal Affairs Service (IAS) and drug cases filed in court against drug personalities that rightfully describe the active stance of the PNP in addressing both the country’s drug problem and internal discipline issues in the police force.

Azurin said they are fully cooperating with the Department of Justice (DOJ) in reviewing cases involving police personnel found liable for lapses in police operational procedures in anti-illegal drugs operations.

“Our case reviews of our drug operations from 2016 to date continue and yes we had been providing also the DOJ especially during the time of Chief PNP (Guillermo) Eleazar, we submitted I think over 300 case folders of which 52 cases have been completed that is a case against our PNP operatives pertaining to their drug operations that’s why don’t see any reason why the ICC would come in to investigate because our police are still investigating in tandem with the DOJ,” he said.

In November 2021, the ICC suspended its investigation into the alleged crimes against humanity attributed to Duterte’s drug campaign to assess “the scope and effect of the deferral request” of the Philippine government.

On Jan. 26, the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber (PTC) announced its decision to approve prosecutor Karim Khan’s request to continue its probe into “the Situation of the Republic of the Philippines.”

DOJ Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla earlier called the ICC’s move “unreasonable”, stressing that the Justice department opposes “antics that tend to question our sovereignty and our status as a sovereign country.”

The PTC said it is “not satisfied” that the Philippines is conducting relevant investigations “that would warrant a deferral of the Court’s investigations on the basis of the complementarity principle.”

Meanwhile, Azurin said PNP operatives seized PHP273.8 million worth of illegal drugs and arrested 4,858 drug suspects from Jan.1 to 26.

He said police officers also confiscated 601 loose firearms from 158 persons arrested for possession of these illegal firearms.

During the same period, police units received 350 firearms for safekeeping.

Azurin also said a total of 2,275 wanted persons were accounted for by tracker teams of PNP units during weeklong police operations on Jan. 21 to 29.

Those arrested include 438 most wanted persons and 1,837 other wanted persons sought by judicial authorities for criminal offenses

Source: Philippines News Agency