The Philippine government will not cooperate with the International Criminal Court should the Hague-based tribunal throw a full-scale investigation on President Rodrigo Duterte’s “harsher” war on drugs, the Palace maintained on Thursday.
In a Palace press briefing, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said the ICC had no jurisdiction over the country and its matters, adding the country remained unrestrained by their rules.
“They don’t have a jurisdiction. If they don’t have jurisdiction, they cannot do anything against us,” Panelo told Palace reporters.
“There’s no jurisdiction. Why would you cooperate with them if they don’t have jurisdiction over us? We’re not bound by their rules.”
In Cauayan City in Isabela, Duterte said if the ICC would declare him guilty of crimes against humanity due to the series of drug-related killings, he said he would be “glad to go” and would even be the one to put the rope around his neck.
Speaking before Isabela officials and villagers during the campaign rally of PDP-Laban senatorial candidates at the Francisco L. Dy Memorial Coliseum on Wednesday evening in Cauayan City, Duterte said, “For all the things that I have said, ordered and done, I am willing to put [the rope around] my neck about this.”
Duterte, who said last year that he would be ready to die by firing squad, had earlier ordered the withdrawal of the Philippines’ membership in the ICC. The withdrawal will take effect on March 17.
Reiterating his stand that the ICC had no jurisdiction over him, Duterte claimed the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the ICC, was not enforceable in the country because it was not published in a government publication or any newspaper of general circulation in the Philippines.
Panelo, the President’s chief legal counsel, stressed the ICC would violate 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“But in this particular case we said assuming we have not withdrawn, assuming they have jurisdiction, they cannot proceed because that is in violation of the Rome Statute because what did they was just a preliminary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 argued.
Currently, the President is facing two communications related to his controversial crackdown before the international court.
Since then, Duterte had neglected the authority of the ICC, arguing that the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the ICC, cannot be enforced nor imposed in the country for it was not published i a government publication or any commercial newspaper.
In his speech on Wednesday evening, the President took a swipe anew at the ICC, explaining the grounds why it has no jurisdiction over him.
“What they did with our membership in ICC, these f****** bastards, (former President Joseph) Estrada signed it. Then it was passed to the Congress for ratification because it was a treaty. But instead of returning the copy of the treaty to the Office of the President, that will mandatorily order the publication of that law in the Official Gazette, they didn’t return it,” Duterte said.
“There was no publication. They directly sent it there and appended it to the Rome Agreement. Me, I’m a fiscal. Everyday, when I face a case, I ask myself: Do I have jurisdiction to prosecute this case? Or is the court… Does it fall within the jurisdiction of the court where it is being tried?“ he added.
According to the President, under the case of Tuvera vs. Tañada, the Supreme Court ruled that a law, especially a criminal statute, must be published.
“If you do not publish it, there is no law at all. It is as if there is nothing in the books of the government that will bind me to a criminal case. Why will you prosecute me in a law that was not published?” Duterte asked.
“It says that it must be published, especially if that is a criminal statute. Otherwise, if there is no publication, there is no jurisdiction. I was the only one who thought of that,” he added.
However, if the ICC will declare him guilty of his crimes against humanity due to the series of extrajudicial killings, the President said he would be “glad to go” and hang himself. With PNA