Malacañang said ICC representatives could come as tourists but should refrain from gathering information about the complaints on the drug war.
Yancy Lim/Presidential Photo, File
Palace says ICC investigators won't be allowed to enter Philippines
Alexis Romero (Philstar.com) - March 18, 2019 - 6:02pm

MANILA, Philippines — International Criminal Court representatives would be barred from entering the Philippines if they insist on probing the alleged extrajudicial killings tied to President Rodrigo Duterte's war on illegal drugs, Malacañang said Monday. 

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo rejected claims that the ICC could continue looking into the complaints against Duterte despite the Philippines' withdrawal from the tribunal, which took effect last Sunday. 

He argued that the Rome Statute, the treaty that created the ICC, was not published in the government's official publication. He also stressed that under the Rome Statute, the ICC could only proceed with a probe if it has conducted a preliminary investigation. 

READ: Philippines becomes second country to quit ICC

Panelo said immigration officials would deny entry to ICC representatives if they insist on continuing its investigation.  

"If they say 'We will be investigating.' Perhaps they will be denied (entry) by the (Bureau of) Immigration," the presidential spokesman said in a press briefing. 

"Huwag na. Matulog na lang sila (They should not come here. They should just sleep)," he added. 

Palace to ICC: Come as tourists

Panelo said ICC representatives could come as tourists but should refrain from gathering information about the complaints against the war on illegal drugs. He said the ICC personnel would be deported if they insist on conducting the probe, which he said would infringe on Philippine sovereignty. 

“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),” Panelo said.

"You're interfering with the sovereignty. Because when you try to subject a country to your jurisdiction, then you're interfering with that country because we have our own courts here. We can prosecute anybody if we feel (they violate or transgress) the law," he added. 

READ: ICC 'weaponized' human rights to defend illegal drug trade, Locsin claims

Panelo said the government has a way of knowing whether the ICC personnel who would come as tourists would pursue their investigation.   

"Alam mo naman 'yung mga Pilipino, mga tsismosa, makakarating 'yun (You know Filipinos love to gossip. It will reach us)," he said. 

Panelo blames killings on drug syndicates

The Philippines' withdrawal from ICC took effect last March 17, a year after the Duterte administration informed the United Nations about its decision to withdraw from the Rome Statute.

The Philippines withdrew its ratification of the Rome Statute because of what officials described as "outrageous attacks" against Duterte by the UN and the ICC. 

The ICC, however, has insisted that the Philippines still has the obligation to cooperate with the investigation. 

READ: Palace: Only 'conspiracy theorists' concerned over ICC pullout

Human rights groups and critics of Duterte have expressed fears that the Philippines' withdrawal from the ICC would worsen human rights abuses in the country. 

Panelo, however, dismissed such fears as "conspiracy theories." 

"It is open season of conspiracy theories by the political opposition, the Left and the human rights activists. Suddenly becoming experts in international law and sharing the common advocacy of demonizing the president and his administration on the issue of human rights vis-a-vis the drug war, they make good media copy, which obviously is the intention," he said. 

Panelo reiterated that extrajudicial killings were not state-sponsored but were caused by "drug syndicates killing each other either for their own protection or to exact revenge against whistleblowers," and "turf wars among drug lords and drug pushers."

"The anti-illegal drug campaign is anchored on national survival as well as accountability of those who bring the nation to the precipice of destruction," the presidential spokesman said. 

"There is no culture of impunity under this administration. The country’s criminal justice system continues to be operational and strictly compliant with the constitutional requirement of due process," he added. 

Panelo challenged critics who blame the administration for the killings to file complaints before the court to test the validity of their claims. 

"Failure to undertake this process can only mean that they are engaged in conjectures and politicizing the matter to the advantage of drug personalities and criminals," he added.

ICC WITHDRAWAL
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