International Criminal Court scored over drug war probe

April 06, 2019
Salvador Panelo

MALACANANG lambasted the International Criminal Court (ICC) for pursuing examination of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs despite the country’s withdrawal from the tribunal.

“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,” Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.

Panelo’s remark came after the ICC confirmed receipt of a communication filed by the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) over the government’s drug crackdown.

The ICC, Panelo said, would be violating its own rules if it will start with its preliminary investigation past the effectivity of the Philippines’ withdrawal from the tribunal.

“For the umpteenth time, we cite Article 127 of the Rome Statute which states in part: “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,” he said.

Assuming the ICC has jurisdiction over the country, Panelo said it still cannot proceed with a full-blown probe because the country is not unwilling or unable to conduct genuine proceedings in cases.

“In this connection, we urge any individual who has sufficient evidence to file a case before a Philippine court of competent jurisdiction and contend that the deaths resulting from the war against illicit drugs 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,” he said.