(FILES) This file photo taken on November 23, 2015 shows the building of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, The Netherlands. AFP PHOTO / ANP / Martijn Beekman
MANILA, Philippines – The decision of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to continue its assessment of the government’s drug war is an “affront” to the Philippine judicial system and an “insult” to the country’s sovereignty, Malacañang said Thursday.
“The International Criminal Court (ICC) has 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,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.
Panelo said the ICC and even some United Nations officials “have been issuing public statements and comments which tend to embarrass our country and produce an impression to the world that our government is already guilty of the crimes being accused of.”
The ICC, he said, was “free to proceed with its undertakings” but reiterated that the Philippines never became a State Party to the Rome Statute, which created the ICC.
“Thus, we will treat this tribunal as nonexistent and its actions a futile exercise,” he said.
He said the “President’s position on the Rome Statute is clear.”
“It, being a law which is penal in nature, never took effect insofar as the Philippines is concerned due to its non-publication,” he said.
“This omission violates not only Article 2 of the Civil Code, but more notably, 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 we all know, cannot supplant our Constitution,” he added.
The statement made by the President in March of this year, he said, “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,” Panelo said.
“Even assuming for the sake of argument that the Philippines is a State Party to the Rome Statute, he said “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.”
“Aside from the fact that all these crimes are already covered under our domestic penal laws, it cannot be denied that the Philippines has a robust judicial system which soundly operates,” he said.
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“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 added.
The Palace official 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.”
“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 said.
“On the other hand, hastily proceeding to the preliminary investigation and bringing the case to the Court before the withdrawal becomes effective will certainly result [in] a biased appreciation of facts by the ICC,” he added.
The Palace, he said, “thus 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.”
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