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Palace: PHL to deny entry of ICC investigators

The Philippine government said Monday it will deny visas to International Criminal Court (ICC) personnel should they decide to conduct a preliminary investigation on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

Duterte’s spokesperson Salvador Panelo issued the statement after the United States—which is not a state party to the Rome Statute that established the ICC in 2002—said it will revoke or deny visas to ICC investigators seeking to probe the alleged war crimes and other abuses committed by US forces or allies in Afghanistan.

“Kasama lahat ‘yun,” Panelo said at a news conference when asked if the Philippines will deny or revoke visas of the ICC personnel.

“Why should we allow them to do it first before we do something,” he said.

Panelo said the ICC personnel can visit the Philippines as tourists but warned that they will be deported if they would proceed with the investigation on the drug war.

“I’ll smile at them and tell them nicely ‘you can’t do it here. If you persist you will be deported. You will be violating [our sovereignty],’” he said.

“The Immigration officials have the discretion to deny you entry if they feel na ang gagawin mo rito eh either labag sa batas o manggugulo ka lang dito.”

The Philippines' withdrawal from the ICC became final on Sunday, March 17, a year after it told the United Nations that it was quitting the world's only permanent war crimes tribunal, the second nation to do so after Burundi.

This comes after the tribunal launched in February last year a preliminary examination of Duterte for his anti-drug campaign which has claimed a total of 5,176 lives from July 1, 2016 to January 31, 2019 based on government data.

Duterte, who is facing two communications over the bloody drug war, had repeatedly said that the ICC had no jurisdiction over him, arguing that the Rome Statute 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.

“When you try to subject a country to your jurisdiction then you’re interfering with the sovereignty of our country. We have our own courts here, we can prosecute anybody,” Panelo told reporters.

He insisted in a separate statement that deaths during anti-illegal drugs operations occurred as suspected drug personalities resisted arrest.

The Palace called on critics to file sworn complaints before the appropriate administrative and judicial bodies to test the validity of their assertion that deaths under the drug war are sanctioned by the government.

“There is therefore absolutely no basis for the ICC to continue whatever it started against the President or the Philippines. Nor is there any basis for the opposition and the critics' perorations on the subject,” he said. —KG, GMA News