Palace: ICC out to interfere with PH sovereignty

Published April 6, 2019, 10:34 AM

by Patrick Garcia

By Argyll Cyrus Geducos

Malacañang has slammed the International Criminal Court (ICC) for its continuing probe on President Duterte’s drug war, saying the organization is bent on interfering with the country’s sovereignty.

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

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo made the statement Friday following ICC’s decision to look into the second communication filed by the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) against Duterte.

Panelo said that ICC writing a letter to the NUPL only means that the High Court is still pursuing whatever activity it has initiated against the President despite the country signifying that the Philippines never became part of its jurisdiction.

“With the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC writing the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers a letter on April 4, 2019 saying that it will analyze the latter’s communication in the context of a situation already under preliminary examination by it, it becomes apparent that this institution is indeed bent on interfering with the sovereignty of our Republic even if it means disregarding the Rome Statute, the very instrument which created it,” he said.

“With the biased and preconceived actions of the ICC, we cannot blame the Filipino people for thinking that it has taken a politically-motivated obnoxious path aimed at maligning not just this Administration but the very Republic of the Philippines,” he added.

Duterte and Malacañang claimed that the ICC never acquired jurisdiction over the Philippines as the country’s ratification of the Rome Statute, the treaty that created the ICC, was never published in the Official Gazette.

With this, Panelo said the ICC’s actions are not only baseless but are also tainted with political motivation.

“We reiterate that the Rome Statute, being a law penal in nature, never took effect in the country. Claiming otherwise without the requisite publication violates Sections 1 and 7 of the Bill of Rights which respectively guarantee the rights of the people to due process and to be informed on matters of national concern,” Panelo said.

“Even if we assume, for the sake of argument, that the Rome Statute became enforceable in the Philippines, the ICC can still no longer exercise its powers over the country as, in such hypothetical case, our withdrawal already became effective last month,” he added.

Panelo also cited anew Article 127 of the Rome Statute which states that a withdrawal “shall not affect any cooperation with the Court in connection with criminal investigations and proceedings in relation to which the withdrawing State had a duty to cooperate and which were commenced prior to the date on which the withdrawal became effective, nor shall it prejudice in any way the continued consideration of any matter which was already under consideration by the Court prior to the date on which the withdrawal became effective.”

“Clearly, it is only when a criminal investigation has commenced prior to the effective date of the withdrawal that the ICC can continue with the case initiated. What the ICC, through the Office of the Prosecutor, is conducting is only a preliminary examination and not a criminal investigation or proceeding,” he said.

“With the categorical wordings of Article 127, there is therefore no basis under the Rome Statute for the ICC to proceed with any of its activities relative to the President’s programs against illegal drugs,” he added.

Panelo also mentioned the Rome Statute’s principle of complementarity which states that the ICC can only act if there is inability or unwillingness of the State Party to investigate and prosecute its own offenders for the commission of crimes referred thereto.

The Palace official then urged anyone who has sufficient evidence to file a case before a Philippine court of competent jurisdiction and contend that the deaths resulting from the drug war are State-sponsored.

“This is the only way we can determine if there is indeed inability or unwillingness on the part of the Philippine Government to investigate and prosecute these alleged crimes. Should there be no cases filed, we can only surmise that no person can gather evidence, as there is none, which can prove that the deaths from the war on drugs are State-initiated,” Panelo said.

“Revelations will then be had that all these allegations are mere fabrications contrived by those who wish to destroy the anti-illegal drug campaign of the President,” he added.