Panelo: Duterte ‘definitely not afraid’ of ICC probe
President Rodrigo Duterte is “definitely” not afraid of the International Criminal Court (ICC)’s investigation, Presidential Legal Adviser Salvador Panelo said Wednesday, disputing claims that it was the reason why the Chief Executive decided to withdraw from the treaty forming the tribunal.
When asked if Duterte was afraid of being tried before the ICC, Panelo said: “Definitely not.”
Duterte on Wednesday announced the Philippines’ withdrawal from the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the ICC.
Duterte cited the “baseless, unprecedented and outrageous attacks” against him and his administration by United Nations special rapporteur Agnes Callamard and UN High Commissioner on Human Rights Zaid Ra’ad al-Hussein and ICC special prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.
Panelo said that the ICC’s preliminary examination was “already a violation of due process,” since it was not supposed to be publicized before the court assumes jurisdiction and determines if the evidence submitted to the tribunal were admissible.
“By announcing prematurely the preliminary examination being conducted by the special prosecutor, it’s as if he’s going to be charged with all the crimes,” Panelo said in an ambush interview at Malacañang.
Panelo insisted that the statute is not enforceable in the Philippines because it was not published in the Official Gazette or any newspaper in general circulation when it was ratified by the Senate on Aug. 23, 2011.
“Hindi, not there, it is not enforceable. There is a Rome Statute but it is not enforceable in this country. It may be enforceable if they follow what our own law says but since they have not, so it’s not enforceable,” he said.
“We are in effect telling them na hindi na kami interesado dyan, alis na kami dyan (we are no longer interested, we have to go),” he added.
Panelo said that the government may get in touch with the ICC “out of courtesy” and formality.
The ICC in February launched a preliminary examination on Duterte’s bloody campaign against illegal drugs, which was believed to have killed thousands of suspected drug criminals.
The preliminary examination stemmed from the complaint of Jude Sabio, lawyer of Edgar Matobato, a self-confessed hitman of the Davao Death Squad, a vigilante group linked to Duterte when he was still mayor of Davao City.
It would determine if there is a “reasonable basis” to proceed with an investigation in accordance to the criteria established by the Rome Statute.
The ICC has jurisdiction on genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. /je