By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Malacañang said the decision of the International Criminal Country (ICC) to proceed with its assessment of the government’s drug war is an “affront” to the Philippine judicial system and an “insult” to the country’s sovereignty.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, in a statement, said that the ICC once again exhibited its impartiality when it publicly pronounced that it will continue to assess the alleged crimes against humanity committed in the country.
“We are not surprised,” Panelo said Thursday evening.
“[The Palace] considers any implication that the ICC has basis to act upon the situation of the country as an affront to the capability of our courts to act independently, an insult to the Philippine legal system and an infringement upon our very sovereignty,” he added.
According to Panelo, the ICC and even some United Nations officials, have been issuing public statements and comments which tend to embarrass the Philippines, and produce an impression to the world that the government is already guilty of the crimes being accused of.
He added that the ICC is free to proceed with its assessment but reiterated that the Philippines never became a State Party to the Rome Statute, which created the high court.
“We will treat this tribunal as nonexistent and its actions a futile exercise,” he said.
“It, being a law which is penal in nature, never took effect insofar as the Philippines is concerned due to its non-publication,” he added.
The Palace official added that this omission violates not only Article 2 of the Civil Code, more especially Article III, Sections 1 and 7 of the 1987 Constitution which respectively guarantee the rights of the people to due process and to be informed on matters of national concern.
“Treaties, as well all know, cannot supplant our Constitution,” Panelo said, adding that Duterte’s statement in March this year was only a gesture of courtesy that the Philippines will no longer participate in the affairs of the ICC in whatever form.
“We, therefore, treat any provision found in the Rome Statute, including the existence of the ICC, as ineffective in our jurisdiction,” he added.
“Even assuming for the sake of argument that the Philippines is a State Party to the Rome Statute, the principal basis of any action by the ICC is the inability or unwillingness of the State Party to investigate and prosecute its own offenders for the commission of crimes referred to in the Rome Statute,” he continued.
Panelo also argued that the said crimes are already covered under Philippine domestic penal laws, and that the country’s judicial system soundly operates.
“The conviction by the Caloocan court of three policemen for the killing of Kian delos Santos is plain proof of this. With this, the ICC does not have any basis at all to advance its activities regardless of whether it is still in the preliminary examination phase,” he said.
“Only when a preliminary investigation has commenced prior to the effective date of the withdrawal (assuming the ICC has jurisdiction and the Philippines made a withdrawal pursuant to the Rome Statute) that the ICC can continue with the case initiated,” he added.
“What the ICC, through the Office of the Prosecutor, is conducting now is only a preliminary examination. Hence, the ICC is violating the Rome Statute in continuing its activity,” he continued.
He however, said that hastily proceeding to the preliminary investigation and bringing the case to the Court before the withdrawal becomes effective will certainly result to a biased appreciation of facts by the ICC.