FACT CHECK: BBM’s claim that ICC can only act if a country has no ‘functioning judiciary’ needs context

Oct. 02, 2022

CLAIM: In an interview with actress and television host Toni Gonzaga last September 13, Pres. Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. said the International Criminal Court (ICC) is “only supposed to take action when a country no longer has a functioning judiciary”.

The Philippine government recently rebuffed a request by the ICC’s chief prosecutor to resume an investigation on former president Rodrigo Duterte and his bloody “war on drugs”, which left thousands dead for allegedly using or selling illegal drugs.

Marcos said: “The ICC very simply is supposed to take action when a country no longer has a functioning judiciary, has no longer some [of] the organs of state, the police, etcetera. And that condition does not exist in the Philippines, so I do not see what role ICC is going to play here in the Philippines”.



The ICC aims to help end impunity for perpetrators of serious crimes of concern to the international community such as genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and crime of aggression.

According to the ICC, it intends “to complement, not to replace” national courts. It only intervenes when a State is unable or unwilling to genuinely carry out the investigation and prosecute those responsible for international crimes.

To recall, the ICC authorized a full investigation into Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs after preliminary examination found a reasonable basis to show “crime against humanity” has been committed.

In June, ICC chief prosecutor Karim Khan filed a request with the pre-trial chamber to allow the resumption of the probe into the drug war killings. They determined that the Philippine Government has failed “to provide any documentation to substantiate that the investigations are ongoing or complete, nor any details regarding concrete investigative or prosecutorial steps that have been taken.”

Khan even noted that the assessment by a panel led by the Department of Justice on the “war on drugs” operations was a mere “desk review.”

The total number of drug suspects killed in the government’s war against illegal drugs has reached 6,235 as of February 28, 2022, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency said. But human rights groups estimated that the number of victims could be between 27,000 and 30,000, including the vigilante-style killings.

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