Gov’t inclined to block entry of ICC staff to probe war on drugs

Published March 18, 2019, 3:48 PM

by Patrick Garcia


By Genalyn Kabiling

The government is inclined to block the entry of International Criminal Court (ICC) personnel if they intend to probe the alleged abuses linked to the war on drugs.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo (OPS / MANILA BULLETIN)
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo

Insisting the country never became a state party of the ICC, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said the government would not allow its investigators to violate the county’s sovereignty.

“They cannot undertake anything in connection with jurisdictional exercise of what they have in mind because as we said that is in violation of our laws,” Panelo said during a Palace press briefing.

“Certainly, we will not allow any attempt at interfering with the sovereignty of this country,” he added.

Asked if the country will deny visas of the ICC investigators, Panelo said: “Kasama lahat iyon siyempre basta, anything na – why should we allow them to do it first before we do something.”

President Duterte earlier decided to pull out the country’s membership from the Rome Statute that created the ICC amid complaints about violations of due process, among others.

The country’s ICC pullout took effect last Sunday.

Duterte previously argued that not in a million years could the ICC acquire jurisdiction over him. He said the treaty could not be enforced in the country since it was not published on the Official Gazette.

In a later interview with reporters, Panelo explained that the ICC personnel could come to the country as “visitors” but would be deported if they violate the country’s laws.

“I’ll smile at them and tell them nicely ‘you can’t do it here. If you persist you will be deported,” he said.

“When you try to subject a country to your jurisdiction then you’re interfering with the sovereignty of our country. We have our own courts here, we can prosecute anybody,” he said.

He said the country’s immigration officers could deny entry to the ICC personnel seeking to investigate the drug war.

“The immigration officials have the discretion to deny you entry if they feel na ang gagawin mo rito eh either labag sa batas o manggugulo ka lang dito [you will violate the law or cause chaos here],” he said.

Panelo maintained that the President’s position that ICC never acquired jurisdiction over the country was “unequivocal and inflexible.”

“The requirement of publication imposed by law is not observed. There has to be publication in a newspaper of general circulation or on Official Gazette,” he said.

He said even assuming the country is under ICC jurisdiction, the court could only step in if the local courts are unwilling or unable to investigate and prosecute crimes. He said the country still has a robust criminal justice system, adding that anyone can file complaints.