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What withdrawal? Palace calls ICC ‘non-existent’

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Malacañang has denied that the Philippines withdrew from the International Criminal Court (ICC), saying it was never a party to the treaty that created the tribunal in the first place.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo called the ICC “non-existent” Sunday (March 17), when the Philippines’ exit from the tribunal became official.

“The Philippines cannot leave that which it has never joined in the first place. Our position on the matter remains clear, unequivocal and inflexible: The Philippines never became a State Party to the Rome Statute which created the ICC. As far as we’re concerned, this tribunal is non-existent and its actions a futile exercise,” he said in a statement.

It was on March 17 last year when the Philippines sent a letter to the United Nations about its decision to leave the ICC. The decision was prompted by the tribunal’s launch of a preliminary examination on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

Since the government does not consider the Philippines a member of ICC, Panelo said any action by the tribunal related to the country “mean it is bent on interfering with the sovereignty of our Republic.”

“Such intrusion can only validate the theory of the countries that withdrew their membership and those that do not want to join it that the ICC continues to exercise unaccountable prosecutorial powers and has become a tool for political prosecution thereby a threat to the national sovereignty of countries,” he said.

Panelo maintained that crimes under the ICC’s jurisdiction are already covered by Philippine laws and anyone who wishes to seek justice can file cases before local courts.

He said the convictions in the murder of teenager Kian Delos Santos in connection to the war on drugs are proof that the Philippine justice system is functioning.

“We have a robust judicial system and its soundly operates… There is therefore absolutely no basis for the ICC to continue whatever it started against the President of the Philippines,” Panelo said.

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