Sen. Aquilino  “Koko”  Pimentel III said, as a responsible member of the international community we just have to respect  the International Criminal Court (ICC).

He said the ICC  is an international body created by treaty over which we have no control. 

“They will continue with their timetable no matter what we do,” added Pimentel, referring to the ICC probe into President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs and the Davao killings.

The ICC said that its investigation will also include the killings in Davao from November 1, 2011, to June 30, 2016, at the time  Duterte was mayor or vice mayor of Davao City.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros said, “Let us not block ICC officials from doing their obligations.” 

She said it was the Palace delaying the process. 

“Ano ba ang kailangan nya pang pag-isipan? Wala ba syang kumpyansa sa sarili nyangpaliwanag? Ano ba ang ikinakatakot nya? Why be afraid if you are not hiding something?”

Hontiveros said she is confident the ICC will fulfill its mandate of prosecuting those guilty ofthe serious crimes.

Sen. Leila De Lima said she welcomes with a very glad heart the decision of the ICC Pre-Trial Ordering the start of the preliminary investigation on Duterte and Sen. Ronaldo Dela Rosa and other security law enforcement officials of the Philippine government, particularly those also involved with the Davao Death Squad from November 2011 to July 2016, for the killings committed in Duterte’s drug war.

“I intentionally mention the aliases of Duterte and now Senator Dela Rosa to emphasize the point that soon, like any ordinary criminal or fugitive from justice, they will also be known by their aliases, apart from their given names, like in any “Wanted” poster proclaiming that they are being hunted by the ICC in The Hague to answer for mass murder as a crime against humanity.”

Although the decision of the Pre-Trial Chamber fell short of issuing the corresponding warrants of arrest against Duterte, Dela Rosa, and the members of the Davao Death Squad, she noted that it is only a matter of time before international arrest warrants are issued by the ICC in light of the refusal of the Duterte administration to cooperate and participate in the investigation.

Meanwhile, even without presence of the accused, former  International Criminal Court (ICC) Judge Raul Cano Pangalangan said the proceedings can move up to the filing and confirmation of charges.

Pangalangan, a  retired ICC judge, said  the case can move forward up to filing and confirmation of charges without the presence of the accused even if the accused refuses to take part.

In an interview by ANC’s Headstart, he said the ICC could bring witnesses to the Hague and conduct virtual testimonies.

But if the accused “never gets into the custody of the court,” he stressed that the proceedings would stop.

“In the end, we still arrive at the same conclusion. Although the language is different for the two things — duty to cooperate and power to adjudicate — in the end both obligations will survive the withdrawal,” he said.

The Pre-Trial Chamber of the ICC has formally authorized an official probe into alleged crimes against humanity in relation to President Rodrigo Duterte’s “war on drugs.”

The Hague-based tribunal said there was “reasonable basis” to proceed with the probe, noting that “specific legal element of the crime against humanity of murder” has been met in the crackdown that left thousands dead.

The Palace  has asserted several times the President  Duterte would not participate in the ICC probe.

The 76-year-old Duterte has scorned the ICC’s prosecution team from the time it first began.

With the ICC’s approval to proceed with its investigation, Pangalangan said evidence against individuals will be collected.

“Assuming they now proceed with the investigation, this is the only time they will focus on individuals,” he said. 

“Up to this stage the focus was on what we call the Philippine situation”

“Now that there’s an investigation, the end product, assuming there is enough evidence, will be of course charges against individuals,” he said.

The ICC Prosecutor’s investigation will cover killings under the drug war since Duterte assumed office in July 2016 until the Philippines’ withdrawal from the Rome Statute on March 16, 2019. 

It would also look into the killings in Davao City from November 1, 2011, to June 30, 2016, when Duterte served as mayor and vice mayor.