The International Criminal Court would only violate its own provisions if it pushed through with its investigation against President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign on illegal drugs, the Palace said on Monday, shrugging off the possibility of the country’s withdrawal from the tribunal.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo maintained that the Philippines, from the “very beginning,” was not under the ICC’s jurisdiction.
“We didn’t even withdraw. We said from the very beginning, we were not under its jurisdiction. That letter was only to inform them as a matter of courtesy that excuses us, we have not been under your jurisdiction from the very start,” Panelo said in a Palace press briefing.
Asked what the Palace would do if the ICC announced the country’s withdrawal on March 17, Panelo said: “It does not matter to us because they have no jurisdiction over us.”
Panelo, who also serves as the President’s chief legal counsel, said the Philippine government has been pointing out that the ICC itself has been violating their own provisions with their actions.
“Assuming that there is a withdrawal, because they are saying that we can proceed with the investigation even if there is withdrawal, but under the law, it says that they can proceed only when there is a preliminary investigation prior to the withdrawal; but there was no preliminary investigation, there was only preliminary examination,” he said.
“So, if they do that, then it’s with more reason not to be part of it [ICC] because they are violating its own laws,” Panelo added.
According to the Palace official, the ICC, in the first place, “cannot be doing any investigation because it never acquired jurisdiction over the Philippines.”
“As argued by the President, there is a requirement of publication and that was never published. Hence, there is no jurisdiction over his person and for that matter over any person in this country,” Panelo stressed.
“Our courts are functioning. So, how will they interfere? We are willing and we are capable [of investigating the illegal drug campaign]. In fact, it shows we have a robust judicial system. We have been prosecuting people and we have convictions, as well as acquittals,” he continued.