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Boying urges ‘drug war’ witnesses to come out
JUSTICE Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla on Wednesday called on possible witnesses in the alleged abuses committed during the previous administration’s “bloody” war on drugs to come out and testify.
During his first press conference at the Department of Justice (DOJ) main office in Manila, Remulla, an elected congressman, vowed to provide witnesses assistance and security under the government’s Witness Protection Program (WPP).
“There are witnesses who want to come forward, I can assure you that we will take care of the witnesses and give the protection, and if that’s what’s needed. We have a witness protection program under our government right now, at the DOJ,” he said.
“It’s been there institutionalized, and for those who really want to come forward to prove it to be a witness in a criminal prosecution involving what you call extrajudicial killings, please come forward, we will welcome these people who wish to put forward the testimonies like the work is ongoing right now,” Remulla said.
Also, Remulla said that the Philippine government, out of courtesy, will provide the International Criminal Court (ICC) with the information it needs when it resumes its investigation into the previous administration’s war on drugs.
But Remulla stressed that this should not be construed as an acknowledgment of the ICC’s jurisdiction over the “illegal” drug war probe, saying the justice system in the Philippines is “sound and functioning”.
“When you withdraw from the ICC, and you cease to become a member, then what activities can they hold in your country that will be sanctioned by your country as a treaty participant? Since you’re no longer a treaty participant, you are no longer part of the ICC. So it’s just logical that if you’re not part of the ICC, the activities of the ICC will cease as far as you’re country is concerned,” Remulla said in his first in-person press conference as Justice Department secretary.
“The jurisdiction issue then comes in because if they want to conduct an activity, [a] discussion has to be sanctioned on the Philippine government. But since we are no longer members of the ICC, then what activities can be sanctioned when we’re no longer part of the organization? So I think it’s just practical, and it’s just logical, unless you withdraw from the treaty. Then everything else, of course, would cease to exist,” he continued.
Last December, the ICC announced that it was suspending its investigation into the supposed atrocities committed during the campaign against illegal drugs to assess a deferral letter request from the Philippine Ambassador to the Netherlands.
The letter request, dated November 10, 2021, told the ICC that the Philippine government was investigating the alleged crimes.
But last month, Prosecutor Karim Khan has asked the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber I, in a 53-page application, to authorize the resumption of their investigation into the Philippines’ bloody war on drugs that resulted in thousands of unnecessary deaths.
In return, the ICC has asked the Philippine government to respond to Khan’s plea before the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber I to resume their investigation into the war on drugs.
The Philippine Justice Department led a panel of several government agencies, including law enforcement units, in reviewing 5,655 anti-drug operations that resulted in deaths to see whether to file charges against the police officers involved.
The DOJ has been granted unprecedented access to PNP’s records of deaths during the government’s war on drugs.