Any verdict of ICC would not be credible – Malacanang

Published March 19, 2019, 3:30 PM

by Patrick Garcia

By Genalyn Kabiling

Any verdict of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on its inquiry on the government’s drug war would no longer be credible due to lack of jurisdiction as well as interference in the country’s sovereignty, Malacañang said Tuesday.

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

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo maintained that the ICC has no basis to continue its preliminary examination and that the government would not cooperate if it insists.

“Hindi na credible kasi from the very start nga, wala ka na nga jurisdiction, pumasok ka pa. Sinasabi ng sarili mong batas na hindi ka puwede pumasok, pinipilit mo pa. Paano magiging credible [It won’t be credible because from the very start, you have no jurisdiction and yet you will continue with it. Your statute says you can’t go ahead but you still insist. How can it be credible],” Panelo said during a Palace press briefing.

The ICC earlier announced it would continue with the preliminary examination on Duterte’s alleged crimes against humanity linked to his drug war despite the Philippines’ withdrawal from the Rome Statute. ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said the preliminary examination on the Philippines’ situation would be “independent and impartial.”

The country’s pullout from the Rome Statute that created the ICC took effect last Sunday. The Palace earlier said the country never became a state party to the Rome Statute, adding tribunal was non-existent and its actions a futile exercise.

Panelo said the ICC prosecutor would violate the court’s own rules if she proceeds with the inquiry into the government’s war on drugs. He added that it only showed the ICC was bent on interfering with the country’s sovereignty.

He said the Rome Statute states the ICC can proceed with a preliminary investigation if it was started prior to the withdrawal of the state party. “There is no preliminary investigation to speak of, only preliminary examination,” he added.

Also, Panelo affirmed that the ICC should not expect any form of cooperation with the government if it continues with the probe. “None whatsoever,” he said when asked if the government will cooperate with the ICC.

He also maintained that the government has no intention of reconsidering the withdrawal from the ICC. He lamented that the ICC has been used as a tool for political persecution.

Malacañang earlier said the government would bar the entry of ICC personnel seeking to probe the anti-drug campaign. It said ICC personnel were welcome as visitors but would be deported if they continue the inquiry that violates the country’s sovereignty.

Meanwhile, ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in a statement posted on the ICC social media account:

“Pursuant to article 127.2 of the Statute, and based on prior ICC judicial ruling in the situation in Burundi, the Court retains its jurisdiction over crimes committed during the time in which the State was party to the Statute and may exercise this jurisdiction even after the withdrawal becomes effective.”

Bensouda was referring to the decision of the ICC in 2017 authorizing the opening of an investigation of the situation in Burundi even after it has already withdrawn its membership to the Rome Statute.

Burundi became the first country to leave the ICC membership.

In the same statement, Bensouda confirmed that the Philippines’ withdrawal from the ICC became effective, a year after it filed a notice before the United Nations.

In March 2018, the Philippines informed the UN of its decision to withdraw its membership from the ICC after the body began its preliminary examination on Duterte’s controversial drug war that left more than 5,000 people killed. (With a report from Roy C. Mabasa)