Critics of Philippines pullout from International Criminal Court scored

March 18, 2019

MALACANANG yesterday taunted critics of the Philippines’ withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC), saying “the sky has not fallen and the sun still rises in the east.”

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo issued the statement a day after the “supposed withdrawal” of the Philippines from the ICC.

“March 17 has passed, the sky has not fallen and the sun still rises in the east,” Panelo said in a statement.

In March 2018 President Rodrigo Duterte declared the Philippines’ withdrawal from the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the ICC.

The Palace maintained that the Philippines never became part of the ICC, supporting President Rodrigo Duterte’s argument that the treaty, which the Philippines signed on August 23, 2011, was neither “effective nor enforceable” in the country because it was not published in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation.

In his statement, Panelo slammed criticisms of the government’s exit from the ICC as “misleading and baseless.”

He said the criticisms against the government on the exit of the Philippines from the ICC proved that it is now an “open season of conspiracy theories by the political opposition, the Left and the human rights activists.”

He said critics suddenly became “experts in international law and sharing the common advocacy of demonizing the President and his administration on the issue of human rights vis-a-vis the drug war, they make good media copy, which obviously is the intention.”

“We find amusing the myriad of misleading and baseless response to the supposed withdrawal of the Philippines from the Rome Statute which created the International Criminal Court,” Panelo said.

He cited Amnesty International’s remarks that the withdrawal was a “futile attempt to evade international justice” to partylist Gabriela’s statement that the move could “sound off a nastier wave of rights abuses, including red-tagging of Duterte critics.”

“The Commission on Human Rights and the Philippine Coalition for the International Criminal Court add to the conspiratorial chorus by saying ‘it is impunity that wins’ and ‘those who kill with impunity will only be further emboldened’,” he added.

The ICC in February 2018 launched a preliminary examination of Duterte’s brutal war on drugs, which has killed thousands of suspected drug criminals, mostly poor.

Panelo urged critics to stop politicizing Duterte’s war on drugs and told those who believed that the deaths on drug war were government sanctioned to file cases in court.

“We earnestly urge those who assert that the deaths resulting from the war on drugs are sanctioned by the administration to file sworn complaints before the appropriate administrative and judicial bodies to test the validity of their assertion apart from assisting in the administration of justice,” he said.

“Failure to undertake this process can only mean that they are engaged in conjectures and politicizing the matter to the advantage of drug personalities and criminals,” he added.

The Palace official said the justice system in the country remained “operational.”

“There is no culture of impunity under this administration. The country’s criminal justice system continues to be operational and strictly compliant with the constitutional requirement of due process,” he said.

He reiterated that purported extrajudicial killings were not State-sponsored but “are direct consequence of members of the drug syndicates killing each other either for their own protection or to exact revenge against whistleblowers.”

He added that “others arise out of turf wars among the drug lords and drug pushers while many of them resulting from botched deals and swindling.”

The deaths in police operations,” he said, “come about as suspects resist arrest with violence that put the police officers in mortal risk.”

The government’s war on drugs, he said, “is anchored on national survival as well as accountability of those who bring the nation to the precipice of destruction.”

He cited “the scores of dead policemen and serious injuries to the hundreds of men in uniform are grim testimonials to the reality that those involved in the drug cartel will not allow themselves to be arrested or captured alive.”

Despite global condemnation of the war on drugs and criminality, Panelo said Duterte’s “immovable goal in pursuing the relentless drive against the destroyers of society is based on his constitutional duty to serve and protect the people.”
“No force on earth can dissuade or stop him from pursuing such objective and complying with the constitutional order,” he said.