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Caritas Philippines, the social action arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), issued a strong statement today calling for full cooperation with the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) investigation into the drug war and related human rights violations.

“We stand with the victims and their families,” declared Caritas Philippines President Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo. “The ICC investigation is not a witch hunt, but a crucial step towards ensuring justice and accountability for those responsible.”

The prelate added, “We urge the government, the Senate, the House of Representatives, and the Philippine military to welcome the ICC and extend their full cooperation. This 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.”

Echoing Bishop Bagaforo’s sentiments, Caritas Philippines Executive Director Fr. Antonio Labiao, Jr., stated, “If the Dutertes, 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?”

Fr. Labiao continued, “We urge the government to reconsider its stance and actively cooperate with the ICC. This is not just about the past; it’s about shaping a future where justice prevails and human dignity is valued.”

Adding weight to their call, Caritas Philippines highlighted the words of Professor Tony Lavina, a prominent human rights lawyer, speaking during a seminar at the Caritas Philippines Academy. “If they say justice is primary in their administrations,” Professor Lavina emphasized, “welcoming and cooperating with the ICC is the right and most patriotic thing to do.”

The statement comes amidst ongoing tensions between the Philippine government and the ICC. While the ICC maintains jurisdiction over the investigation, the current administration has expressed opposition and refusal to cooperate.

Caritas Philippines remains steadfast in supporting the ICC’s investigation, believing it to be a critical step towards healing the wounds of the past and building a future where human rights are respected and protected. The organization encourages all Filipinos to stand with them in demanding justice and accountability.