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Vlogger gets ICC jurisdiction over PH drug war probe wrong

The International Criminal Court need not wait for a state party to the Rome Statute or its justice system to be nonfunctional before it can investigate crimes against humanity committed by that state.

Leollard Riyoh falsely claimed that the ICC can step in only when a government or its justice system has failed in a June 16 vlog he uploaded to his YouTube channel, Mr. Riyoh Next Chapter, and Facebook page, Mr. Riyoh Channel, at the 1:38 mark:

At ang pagkakaalam ko, saka lang manghihimasok ang ICC kapag walang gumaganang justice system o walang gobyernong nagpapatakbo sa isang bansa (As far as I know, the ICC can only intervene when the justice system is no longer working or if a country no longer has a functioning government).

Nowhere in the Rome Statute, which established the ICC, is it stated that the international tribunal can conduct investigations only under the conditions Riyoh cited.

Article 11 of the Rome Statute states that the ICC has jurisdiction to investigate crimes that were committed while a state is party to the statute:

1. The Court has jurisdiction only with respect to crimes committed after the entry into force of this Statute.
2. If a State becomes a Party to this Statute after its entry into force, the Court may exercise its jurisdiction only with respect to crimes committed after the entry into force of this Statute for that State, unless that State has made a declaration under article 12, paragraph 3.

According to Article 5 of the Rome Statute, the ICC can investigate genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and aggression.

The Philippines ratified the Rome Statute in August 2011 but officially withdrew from its jurisdiction in March 2019 after the international court began a preliminary examination against President Rodrigo Duterte’s infamous war on drugs in 2018. Thus, crimes against humanity (which include murder) that were committed during the Philippines’ time as a state party to the statute may be investigated by the ICC.

Riyoh also questioned the ICC’s authority to investigate Duterte’s drug crackdown, unaware that the court can still investigate a member state’s crimes that occurred for the duration of their ratification of the Rome Statute.

Balitang-balita ngayon na magcoconduct daw ng investigation ang ICC dito sa Pilipinas kaugnay ng Crimes against Humanity daw dahil sa war on drugs ng Duterte administration. Seriously? Nagpapatawa ata itong mga ito eh ‘no? Baka nakakalimutan ng mga basura na ‘to at ng mga Dilawans, na hindi na member ang Pilipinas ng ICC, so anong pinagsasabi niyong imbestigasyon, ha (It has been mentioned in the news recently that the ICC will conduct an investigation in the Philippines regarding Crimes against Humanity that occurred during the Duterte administration’s war on drugs. Seriously? Are they kidding? Maybe these garbage Dilawans (opposition supporters) have forgotten, but the Philippines is no longer a member of the ICC, so what investigation are you talking about, huh)?

On June 14, ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor, led by outgoing Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, formally requested the court’s pre-trial chamber to open an investigation on the Duterte administration’s war on drugs. It said there is “reasonable basis to believe that the Crime Against Humanity of Murder was committed from at least 1 July 2016 to 16 March 2019.”

Data published by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency show only 5,281 civilian deaths during police anti-drug operations from July 1, 2016 to Feb. 28, 2019, which pales in comparison to the 12,000 to 30,000 estimate by human rights groups during that period.

In April 2017, lawyer Jude Sabio filed a 78-page complaint with the ICC seeking an investigation on Duterte’s purported responsibility for mass murder. In August 2018, a 50-page follow-up complaint to the ICC was filed by Rise Up for Life and for Rights, “a network of church people, human rights advocates and the victims and families” who have experienced the ill-effects of the Duterte administration’s war on drugs.

Riyoh’s vlog, which was first posted on his YouTube channel, has garnered 3,785 views, 496 likes (against six dislikes) and 52 comments. Riyoh shared the YouTube link in one of his Facebook pages, Mr Riyoh Next Chapter, which accrued 710 reactions, 21 comments and 53 shares. On Facebook, the vlog has received 37,700 views, 3,300 reactions, 189 comments and 714 shares. Riyoh also shared the video on his other Facebook page, which then amassed an additional 12,900 views, 1,400 reactions, 28 comments and 149 shares.

Riyoh’s YouTube channel, which was created in March 2019, has 142,000 subscribers, while his two Facebook pages have a combined 354,107 likes and 501,244 followers at the time of writing.


Esmaquel, P, II. (2017, April 24). Complaint vs Duterte filed before Int'l Criminal Court. Rappler.

Gavilan, J. (2018, August 28). Duterte faces new complaint before Int'l Criminal Court. Rappler.

International Criminal Court. (n.d.) The Philippines.

International Criminal Court. (2011). Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

International Criminal Court. (2021, June 14). Situation in the Republic of the Philippines.

Philippine National Police. (2019, February 28). RealNumbersPH Year 2.

Mr. Riyoh Channel. (2021, June 16). Crime against humanity niyo mukha niyo Pasensya na po kayo di ko napigilan ang inis ko sa ICC sa video… [Video attached] [Facebook post]. Facebook.

Mr. Riyoh Channel. (2021, June 16). Pasenxa na kayo sa English ko dito guys hah pero di ko talaga napigilan sarili ko sa inis ko… [YouTube link] [Facebook post]. Facebook.

Mr. Riyoh Next Chapter. (2021, June 16). Crime against humanity niyo mukha niyo [Video]. YouTube.

Mr.Riyoh Next Chapter. (2021, June 16). Pasenxa na kayo sa English ko dito guys hah pero di ko talaga napigilan sarili ko sa inis ko sa… [Video attached] [Facebook post]. Facebook.


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