MALACAÑANG slammed the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Fatou Bensouda on Tuesday, March 19, for proceeding with the preliminary examination of President Rodrigo Duterte's anti-drug crackdown, despite the Philippines' withdrawal from the international tribunal.
Speaking to Palace reporters, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo branded the resumption of the ICC's preliminary examination as a mere "political persecution."
"So what is the basis for the ICC to continue investigating? Obviously, as we said, the accusation [against the ICC] is being validated more by [her] actions," Panelo said.
"Ano pa kung hindi political persecution of this President (It's nothing but a political persecution of this President,... It (ICC) has been politically persecuting heads of states. " he added.
The Philippines became a party to the Rome Statute, which creates the ICC, on November 1, 2011.
In March 2018, The Philippines announced its revocation of membership from the ICC because of the international tribunal's alleged "brazen display of ignorance of the law."
However, its withdrawal from the ICC was just formalized on Sunday, March 17.
In a statement released early Tuesday, Bensouda stressed that the Philippines's withdrawal from the ICC does not mean the "independent and impartial" preliminary examination of Duterte's drug war has concluded.
The ICC prosecutor noted that the international court still has the jurisdiction over the possible crimes perpetrated during the period the Philippines was a state party to the Rome Statute.
"Pursuant to Article 127.2 of the Statute, and based on prior ICC judicial ruling in the situation in Burundi, the Court retains its jurisdiction over crimes committed during the time in which the State was party to the Statute and may exercise this jurisdiction even after the withdrawal becomes effective," Bensouda said.
"My office's independent and impartial preliminary examination into the situation in the Philippines continues," she added.
In February 2018, Bensouda launched a preliminary examination of alleged crime against humanity committed amid Duterte's brutal crackdown on illegal drugs.
Article 127 of the Rome Statue states that a State Party's withdrawal "shall not affect any cooperation with the Court in connection with criminal investigations and proceedings in relation to with the withdrawing State had a duty to cooperate and which were commenced prior to the date on which the withdrawal became effective."
Asked if there will be a cooperation from the Philippines, Panelo said: "None."
"We have already pointed out that in this country, we have judicial system which is robust and functional and very effective. And we have shown to the world that three presidents have been subjected to the machineries provided by the Constitution, relative to ousting them with respect to certain abuses they have committed. And we have demonstrated that," he said.
Panelo said the ICC does not understand its own provisions of the Rome Statue, maintaining that the international court has no jurisdiction over the Philippines "from the very start."
Pressed again as to what Bensouda would gain from the resumption of preliminary examination against Duterte, the Palace official floated that there appears to be an "unconscious" conspiracy among international organizations to besmirch the President.
"I don't know why is [she] doing it. What I know is that international organizations appeared to have conspired against this President. They opt to believe what they have been receiving from this source, the Philippines, the false stories about the situation in this country," he said.
Asked to clarify the supposed "conspiracy" among international groups opposed to Duterte's policies, Panelo said such move may be "wittingly or unwittingly" done.
"What I'm saying is they appear to be in conspiracy because they are saying the same things [There seems to be conspiracy among] those who speak against this President and this government relative to human rights, relative to drug-related killings. They are coursing the same line," he said.
"Of course, they are getting the information from the critics and detractors of the President. When these people issue a statement and our newspapers print it, that's their basis.... Unconsciously, they appeared to be in conspiracy," Panelo added. (SunStar Philippines)