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Wednesday, March 27, 2019
MANILA

Palace: Philippines won't cooperate with ICC on probe vs Duterte

THE Philippine government will not cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC) should the latter proceed with its investigation on President Rodrigo Duterte's anti-narcotics drive, Malacañang said Thursday, March 14.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo issued the statement just four days before the Philippines' exit from the ICC takes effect.

"Are we prepared? They don't have jurisdiction. They cannot do anything against us," the Palace official told Palace reporters.

"Wala ngang jurisdiction, bakit ka naman mag-cooperate kung walang jurisdiction? (There is no jurisdiction. Why would we cooperate if there is no jurisdiction?) We're not bound by the rules," he added.

In March 2018, Duterte wrote a letter to the ICC, informing them of the Philippines' decision to "immediately" withdraw its membership from the ICC.

The Philippines' departure from ICC is effective March 17, since Article 127 of the Rome Statute states that such withdrawal will only take effect "one year after the date of receipt of the notification, unless the notification specifies a later date."

Panelo maintained that the international court would be violating its own rules, if it continues to conduct a preliminary investigation against Duterte.

"Under the Rome Statute, if there is a preliminary investigation or any proceeding referring to the preliminary investigation, then when there is one prior to the effectivity of the withdrawal, they can still proceed with the investigation," he noted.

"But in this particular case, we said assuming that we have not withdrawn, assuming that they have jurisdiction, they cannot proceed because that is in violation of the Rome Statute because it says there that what they did is just a preliminary examination, not a preliminary investigation," he added.

Two communications and a supplemental communication were filed before the ICC, accusing Duterte of committing crimes against humanity in connection with his deadly crackdown on illegal drugs.

In February 2018, ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda began the preliminary examination of Duterte's supposed human rights violations attributed to his drug war.

Lawyer Jude Sabio, who filed the first communication in April 2017, said in a television interview that the ICC may decide to launch an investigation on Duterte's drug war before the Philippines' withdrawal from the international tribunal takes effect.

On Wednesday, March 13, Duterte reiterated that he is ready to face "death" sentence, should the ICC find him guilty of crimes against humanity.

"Balang araw, itong ICC na itong mga bugok na ito, if they decide to hang me, I would be very glad to go and ako pa ang mag-lagay (Someday, the stupid ICC, if they decide to hang me, I would be very glad to go and I will even be the one to hang myself)," he said in a speech delivered in Cauayan City, Isabela. (SunStar Philippines)


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