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ICC could no longer probe Duterte’s war on illegal drugs

Updated

By Genalyn Kabiling

The International Criminal Court (ICC) could no longer probe President Duterte’s war on illegal drugs following the country’s intention to withdraw its membership from the tribunal, a Palace official said Wednesday.

President Rodrigo Duterte chats with Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo in Malacañan’s State Dining Room on August 22. (KING RODRIGUEZ/PPD / MANILA BULLETIN)

President Rodrigo Duterte chats with Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo in Malacañan’s State Dining Room on August 22. (KING RODRIGUEZ/PPD / MANILA BULLETIN)

“How can you examine if the state party is no longer a member, has withdrawn?” Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said during an interview with reporters in Malacañang.

Panelo also said the international court could not resume its inquiry on the government’s anti-drug campaign since the Rome Statute, which created the ICC, was not effective and not enforceable in the country. The Rome Statue, he said, was not published in the Official Gazette or any newspaper since its ratification in 2011, a requirement before a law takes effect in the country.

“Papaano pa nila itutuloy yun kung…baka sila hindi rin nila akalain na hindi enforceable ‘yon [How can they continue if the statute is not enforceable here],” Panelo said.

President Duterte has decided to withdraw the Philippines’ signature from the founding statute of the ICC, almost seven years since its ratification in the country. The President, in statement released by Panelo to the media, claimed that the ICC has been utilized as a “political tool against the Philippines” amid “baseless, unprecedented and outrageous attacks” against him.

The President’s decision came after the ICC opened an inquiry into the alleged crimes committed in his brutal war on illegal drugs.

“When we enter that particular statute, there is an assumption that they will be observing our own constitution, the requirement of due process, the presumption of innocence, the requirement of due process, the requirement of publication, lahat yon wala. So ang feeling ni presidente, naloko lang pala kami. Hindi mo nirerespect ang aming saligang batas namin,” Panelo said.

Panelo also dispelled speculations that the President made the decision because he was afraid of the ICC prosecution.

“Definitely not,” he said. “The preliminary examination alone is already a violation of due process because that should not have been published,” he added.

He said when the ICC prematurely announced the preliminary examination, it created an impression that Duterte was going to be charged with the crimes.

He maintained that the ICC could not acquire jurisdiction over the President, saying the Rome Statute cannot be enforced in the country since it was properly published. “There is no law to speak of in the Philippines,” he said.

He added that the acts allegedly charged against the President were not among the grounds that fall under the ICC’s jurisdiction.

“When you say murder, there is an intent to kill. But this involves police operations so there is no intent to kill,” he added, about the government’s anti-drugs crackdown.

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