Panelo says Philippines ''will not cooperate'' in ICC probe of war on drugs
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said the Philippine government will not cooperate in the investigation of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on alleged violations in the war on drugs and its investigators will not be allowed to enter the country.
"We will not cooperate because first of all the Philippines has already withdrawn from the Rome Statute. So ICC has no longer have jurisdiction over the country,"Panelo said in a radio interview on Thursday.
"They will violate our rights if they insist on the investigation because that's interference into our domestic affairs," he said.
The ICC, in a statement, said its judges ruled that “based on the facts as they emerge at the present stage and subject to proper investigation and further analysis, the so-called ‘war on drugs’ campaign cannot be seen as a legitimate law enforcement operation, and the killings neither as legitimate nor as mere excesses in an otherwise legitimate operation.”
The investigation will cover 2011 until 2019.
Panelo reiterated that the Philippines has a healthy judicial system where process is being followed and cases that are filed get prosecuted.
He said "investigators from the ICC will not be allowed to enter and gather information or evidence in the Philippines."
In a statement issued on Thursday, Panelo said "the development that a pre-trial chamber of the ICC has authorized an investigation into alleged crimes committed in our territory neither bothers nor troubles the President and his administration."
"Speaking of investigation, it is just now that they have authorized the same, or more than two years since our official withdrawal from the Rome Statute took effect in March of 2019. For this reason, there was nothing being criminally investigated by, or that was already under the consideration of, the 'Court' (which is not the same as an auxiliary office or chamber of the ICC) when said withdrawal took effect. Pursuant to Article 127 of the Rome Statute, therefore, there is no longer any matter for the ICC to pursue," he said.
"We have repeatedly emphasized that the Rome Statute, being penal in nature, failed to comply with the publication requirement that affords due process to those which it seeks to affect. It is as if the said instrument never took effect in the country," he added.
Panelo noted that the "timing of this development reveals that the ICC is bent on proceeding with a case against our government officials in violation of our Constitution and in contravention with the Rome Statue that created it."
"It also reveals that the ICC is being utilized as a political and propaganda apparatus by those usual suspects who will do anything to dethrone the President from his seat. No wonder the leading and powerful countries of the world have either not joined it or have withdrawn their membership therefrom," he said.
"While we expect that more theatrics will be employed by the detractors of the President as election season draws near, this blatant and brazen interference and assault on our sovereignty as an independent country by the ICC is condemnable," he said.
"We stress that we are able and willing to prosecute those who abuse their power and commit crimes against the citizenry if only genuine complainants come forward to the proper authorities instead of personalities who will use their plight for political ambitions," he added. Robina Asido/DMS