JUSTICE Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla has denied protecting former President Rodrigo Duterte from the investigation of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on the alleged crime against humanity of murder in the country amid the former administration’s drug war.

In a television interview, Remulla maintained that the country “has a well-functioning justice system.”

“Wala tayong pinagtatakpan rito. Kung meron silang ebidensya gustong i-share sa atin na makakatulong sa imbestigasyon, bakit hindi? Ba’t kinakailangan sila umusig sa kanilang korte? May sarili tayong korte rito eh,” he said.

(We have nothing to hide here. If they have evidence they want to share with us that will help the investigation, why not? Why is it that they are the ones investigating in their court? We have our own court here.)

“Kung meron silang gustong usigin, ipakita nila ang ebidensya. Ibigay nila sa’min ang ebidensya. Kami ang uusig kasi kami ang may responsibilidad sa bansa natin,” he added.

(If they want to prosecute someone, they should show the evidence. They should give the evidence to us. We will be the one to investigate because it is our responsibility.)

Remulla said the decision of an ICC Pre-Trial Chamber to allow the resumption of probe in the drug war is an irritant, noting it puts the country’s sovereignty in question.

The chamber has authorized the reopening of the probe saying they were not satisfied that the Philippines is undertaking relevant investigations especially on the deaths related to the drug war that would warrant a deferral of its investigations on the basis of the complementarity principle.

The Justice Secretary said the DOJ will not welcome the ICC in the country “unless they make it clear that they will respect us in this regard.”

Remulla also denied discussing the matter with former chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) now Senator Ronald dela Rosa, one of the brains behind the controversial crackdown against illegal drugs of the Duterte administration where over 6,200 individuals were killed.

Although he did not directly affirm or deny, Remulla said he sees nothing wrong in case he would discuss the matter with Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio, daughter of the former President.

For the families of the alleged drug war victims, the resumption of the probe is a welcoming development.

Llore Pasco, whose two sons were killed in May 2017 after being accused as suspects in a robbery holdup, urged the administration of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to let the ICC look into the killings related to the campaign against illegal drugs of the former administration.

Pasco was one of the many relatives of the alleged drug war victims who sought the assistance of the ICC on the matter.

ACT Teachers party-list Representative France Castro said, “that the ICC investigation should be seen as supplementary to the shortcomings of the Philippine justice system and should not be seen as an intrusion or meddling in our affairs.”

“The justice secretary should realize this and not hinder the ICC investigation, as this may also be construed that they are covering up for someone or hiding something,” Castro added.

The ICC earlier said they received over 200 victims’ representations submitted on behalf of around 1,530 individual victims and 1,050 families, 194 wants an investigation conducted by the international body.

The Malacañang earlier expressed support to the stand of the DOJ maintaining the country’s sovereignty on such matters. (SunStar Philippines)