Panelo defends Duterte decision on ICC pullout

Published March 22, 2018, 10:04 AM

by Patrick Garcia


By the Philippines News Agency

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo on Wednesday refuted claims by the International Commission on Jurists (ICJ) that President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC) was “hasty and ill-conceived”.

Presidential Chief Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo
Presidential Chief Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo (MANILA B

“There was no haste when the President decided to withdraw the country from the Rome Statute,” Panelo said in a press statement.

Panelo said Duterte had, in fact, been threatening to withdraw from ICC if it will continue to infringe on the country’s sovereignty and allow itself to be utilized by the President’s detractors aimed at discrediting the government.

“Notwithstanding this warning, the ICC and the United Nation officials continued to issue public statements and comments creating the impression to the world that our government is already guilty of the crimes being accused of,” he stressed.

Panelo also denied ICJ’s claims that justifications for withdrawing from ICC “are a litany of poorly thought-out of pseudo-legal arguments”.

“The ICJ is gravely mistaken because the justifications for withdrawing the country from Rome Statute are grounded on clear violations of the 1987 Constitution and case law on the subject, and not for personal reasons,” Panelo explained.

“There is no such animal as pseudo-legal arguments in law. What is there are pseudo-protectors of human rights masquerading as defenders thereof who assault the constitutional rights of the President,” he added.

He said the ICC has completely disregarded the principle of complementarity when it insisted jurisdiction to conduct preliminary examination on the war on drugs implemented by the Duterte administration.

“The ICC continued with its proceedings despite the fact that the Philippines’ domestic authorities and courts are able and willing to investigate and prosecute the crimes alleged in the complaint before it,” Panelo said.

Panelo said ICC should have immediately dismissed the complaint “if only it was prudent enough to understand the situation in our country”.

He insisted the President’s move to withdraw the Philippines’ ratification of the Rome Statute that created ICC was based on clear violations of the Constitution and domestic laws.

During the graduation rites of 106 cadets of the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) on Wednesday, Duterte reiterated that the ICC has no jurisdiction over him, since the Rome Statute was not published in the Official Gazette when it was ratified in 2011.

“If there is no publication, there is no law to be talking about. What is the basis for continuing an investigation if the law you are relying is flawed and it is total alien to us?” Duterte, a former prosecutor, said.