Probe vs Duterte, drug war? ICC will violate own provisions – Palace
MANILA, Philippines – The International Criminal Court (ICC) would be violating its own provisions if it would launch an investigation against President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, Malacañang said Monday.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo maintained that the Philippines was never part of the ICC.
“Let me restate our position on the matter. One, we said we didn’t even withdraw, we said from the very beginning we were not under its jurisdiction,” Panelo said in a Palace briefing.
In March 2018, Duterte declared the Philippines’ withdrawal from the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the ICC.
In its letter to the ICC, the Philippines said its decision to withdraw was a “principled stand against those who politicize and weaponize human rights.”
“That letter was only to inform them as a matter of courtesy that, excuse us, we have not been under your jurisdiction from the very start,” Panelo said.
Duterte had argued that the treaty, which the Philippines signed on August 23, 2011, was neither “effective nor enforceable” in the country because it was not published in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation.
In a CNN Philippines interview, lawyer Jude Sabio, who filed a 77-page document on killings against Duterte, said it was “possible that the ICC will decide to open an investigation” before March 17, when the country’s withdrawal from the ICC takes effect.
But Panelo dismissed this scenario.
“We have [been] pointing out that the ICC itself has been violating its own provisions, because under the law, you cannot proceed when, assuming there’s a withdrawal because they’re saying we can proceed with the investigation even if there’s withdrawal. But under the law, it says that they can proceed only if there is a preliminary investigation prior to the withdrawal,” he said.
“But there was no preliminary investigation. There was only preliminary examination,” he added.
The ICC in February 2018 launched a preliminary examination on Duterte’s brutal war on drugs, which was believed to have killed thousands of suspected drug criminals, mostly poor.
“In the first place, from the very beginning they cannot be doing any investigation because as we pointed out to them, it never acquired jurisdiction over the Philippines from the very inception,” Panelo said.
“As argued by the President, there is a requirement of publication and that was never published, hence there’s no jurisdiction over his person and for that matter, over any person in this country,” he added.
The Palace official, nevertheless, said the government would not mind if the ICC announces an investigation against the President and his drug war.
“It does not matter to us because they have no jurisdiction over us. If they force itself to acquire jurisdiction, it only shows that from the very start talagang hindi dapat pumapasok diyan sa ICC dahil it’s violating its own provisions,” he said.
The Philippines, he said, has a working judicial system.
“We have a robust judicial system. We’ve been prosecuting people and we have convictions as well as acquittals,” he said. /kga
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