Caritas Philippines on Wednesday issued an appeal to the government to extend its “full cooperation” with the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) investigation into the previous administration’s war on illegal drugs.
Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo, president of Caritas Philippines, said the probe is “not a witch hunt,” adding that it is “a crucial step towards ensuring justice and accountability for those responsible.”
The social action arm of the Catholic Church made the statement after former President Rodrigo Duterte, through former Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr., expressed alarm over reports that the ICC has issued a warrant of arrest against him.
Roque urged President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to issue an order prohibiting all agencies including the security forces from cooperating with the ICC.
The Philippine president has repeatedly expressed that the ICC has no jurisdiction in the country after his predecessor withdrew membership in 2019, adding that the government “will not lift a finger to help any investigation that the ICC conducts”.
Bishop Bagaforo stressed that cooperation with the ICC is “not a sign of weakness, but a demonstration of our commitment to the rule of law and the Filipino people’s right to the truth”.
Father Antonio Labiao Jr., executive director of Caritas Philippines, challenged members of the Duterte family that if they are “truly confident in their innocence, they should have nothing to fear from the ICC”.
“Why obstruct an investigation that seeks the truth? Why deny justice to the countless victims?” the priest said.
Labiao urged the government to “reconsider its stance and actively cooperate” with the international court, adding, “This is not just about the past; it’s about shaping a future where justice prevails and human dignity is valued.”
In his speech at the Caritas Philippines Academy in Tagaytay City, human rights lawyer Antonio Laviña, said that if Duterte and Marcos say that “justice is primary in their administrations, welcoming and cooperating with the ICC is the right and most patriotic thing to do.”
Caritas Philippines renewed its commitment to supporting the ICC’s investigation, saying that it is “a critical step towards healing the wounds of the past and building a future where human rights are respected and protected”.