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Umepal na naman: Palace slams ICC probe as ‘infringement’ on PH sovereignty

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By Prince Golez

Malacanang has branded the decision of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to continue its investigation into the government’s war on drugs a clear affront to the Philippine judicial system and an insult to our state sovereignty.

In a statement, spokesperson Salvador Panelo said on Thursday night that the administration was “not surprised” by the ICC’s move to proceed with its assessment of the allegations of crimes against humanity committed by President Rodrigo Duterte despite the Philippines’ withdrawal from the Rome Statute.

“The ICC and even some United Nations officials have been issuing public statements and comments which tend to embarrass our country and produce an impression to the world that our government is already guilty of the crimes being accused of,” said Panelo.

While the Hague-based court was “free to proceed with its undertakings, Duterte’s mouthpiece pointed out that the Philippines never became a State Party to the Rome Statue that created the ICC.

“Thus, we will treat this tribunal as nonexistent and its actions a futile exercise,” he added.

Panelo said the position of Duterte on the Rome Statute was “clear.”

“It, being a law which is penal in nature, never took effect insofar as the Philippines is concerned due to its non-publication. This omission violates not only Article 2 of the Civil Code, but more notably, Article III, Sections 1 and 7 of the 1987 Constitution which respectively guarantee the rights of the people to due process and to be informed on matters of national concern. Treaties, as well all know, cannot supplant our Constitution,” according to him.

Duterte’s announced withdrawal from the ICC last March, he added, “was only a gesture of courtesy that the Philippines will no longer participate in the affairs of the ICC in whatever form.”

“We, therefore, treat any provision found in the Rome Statute, including the existence of the ICC, as ineffective in our jurisdiction,” Panelo said.

Assuming for the sake of argument that the country is a State Party to the Rome Statute, the spokesman said the ICC still cannot conduct an investigation because the Philippines has a “robust judicial system which soundly operates.”

The conviction by the Caloocan court of three policemen for the killing of 17-year-old Kian delos Santos during an anti-drug operation is “plain proof” that the country is able and willing to investigate and prosecute those responsible for international crimes, he further said.

“With this, the ICC does not have any basis at all to advance its activities regardless of whether it is still in the preliminary examination phase,” said Panelo.

The Palace official continued, “Only when a preliminary investigation has commenced prior to the effective date of the withdrawal (assuming the ICC has jurisdiction and the Philippines made a withdrawal pursuant to the Rome Statute) that the ICC can continue with the case initiated.”

“What the ICC, through the Office of the Prosecutor, is conducting now is only a preliminary examination. Hence, the ICC is violating the Rome Statute in continuing its activity. On the other hand, hastily proceeding to the preliminary investigation and bringing the case to the Court before the withdrawal becomes effective will certainly result to a biased appreciation of facts by the ICC.”