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Palace: PHL won’t cooperate if ICC conducts probe into drug war

Expect no cooperation from the Philippine government should the International Criminal Court (ICC) proceed with a full-blown investigation into President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo made this clear on Thursday as the Philippines’ withdrawal from the The Hague-based tribunal takes effect on March 17.

“They cannot do anything against us,” Panelo said at a news conference in Malacañang. “Bakit ka naman magko-cooperate kung walang jurisdiction? We’re not bound by their rules.”

Panelo reiterated that the ICC will be violating its own rules if it would conduct a preliminary investigation.

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

“But in this particular case we said assuming we have not withdrawn, assuming they have jurisdiction, they cannot proceed because that is in violation of the Rome Statute because what did they was just a preliminary examination, not preliminary investigation,” Panelo added.

The President is facing two communications in connection with the drug war before the ICC, which opened in February last year a preliminary examination to determine whether it has jurisdiction over the matter and a full-blown investigation would serve the interests of justice and of the victims.

Duterte had repeatedly said that the ICC has no jurisdiction over him, arguing that the Rome Statute--the treaty that established the ICC-- is not enforceable in the Philippines because it was not published in a government publication or any commercial newspaper.

Malacañang, meanwhile, cited the principle of complementarity in which the ICC can only investigate allegations of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes if the domestic courts are unable or unwilling to do so.

The Palace said the Philippines has a “robust judicial system which soundly operates.”

Duterte on Wednesday again expressed readiness to face a death sentence should the ICC find him guilty of crimes against humanity in connection with the campaign against narcotics which has claimed a total of 5,176 lives from July 1, 2016 to January 31, 2019 based on government data.

Human rights groups and critics, however, claim the number of deaths could be as high as 20,000. — RSJ, GMA News