By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and Local Government Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. (File photo)

MANILA – Local Government Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. on Wednesday said his agency will comply with President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s directive to avoid communication with the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Abalos issued the statement, a day after Marcos maintained that the Philippine government will not cooperate with the ICC amid its investigation into the drug war launched by his predecessor, former president Rodrigo Duterte.

“We will follow the lead of the President,” he said in a Palace press briefing.

Abalos said that so far, the ICC has not reached out to the DILG, as well as the local government units (LGUs).

“As far as our office is concerned and the LGUs, I have no knowledge about this. There’s no communication with them. Nothing at all,” he said.

In a media interview in Quezon City on Tuesday, Marcos said the government is keeping an eye on the ICC to make sure that it will “not come into contact with any agency of government.”

Marcos also reiterated that the Philippine government “will not lift a finger to help any investigation that the ICC conducts.”

In a forum in Quezon City on Sunday, former senator Antonio Trillanes IV said he had received an “inside information” that ICC investigators allegedly visited the country in December last year to conduct interviews and gather information on Duterte and other individuals involved in the drug war.

The Philippines officially ended its ties with the ICC on March 17, 2019, exactly a year after Duterte ordered the revocation of the Rome Statute that created the international court.

Gov’t transparency

Meanwhile, Abalos said he has yet to meet with United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Opinion Irene Khan who arrived in the country on Monday to assess the government’s human rights mechanism.
Abalos said the Philippine government is ready to meet with Khan to report the country’s adherence to human rights.

“Wala po tayong tinatago (We are not hiding anything). We will be transparent as we are. We are democratic country and follow all the law. If ever, ganoon po ang magiging (that will be the center of the) discussion,” he said. (PNA)