MANILA -- The Philippines will not rejoin the International Criminal Court (ICC) under the administration of President Rodrigo R. Duterte, Malacañang said on Tuesday.

“Not during the watch of this President,” Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said in a Palace press briefing.

Panelo made this reaction after Assembly of State Parties President O-Gon Kwon of the Republic of Korea expressed hope that Philippines will rejoin the Rome Statute which created the ICC in the future.

The Assembly of States Parties is the management oversight and legislative body of the ICC.

Panelo insisted that Philippines was never a member of the ICC in the first place.

He also said the Philippine government will not be giving any sort of cooperation to the ICC in terms of providing information in relation to the Duterte administration's crackdown on illegal drugs.

“They cannot even enter here if that is their purpose - to investigate; kasi (because) they are already intruding into our sovereignty. Eh wala na nga sa jurisdiction eh (They don’t even have jurisdiction),” Panelo said.

Political persecution

Panelo raised the possibility that ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, who insisted on continuing preliminary investigation on alleged crimes against humanity under the Duterte administration, may have another agenda than performing her duties.

Ano pa eh, eh ‘di (What else but) political persecution of this President,” Panelo said.

“I don’t know why she is doing it. What I know is that international organizations appear to have conspired against this President,” he added, noting that they all cited the same figures on drug-related deaths.

Panelo said the international organizations chose to believe “false stories” about the situation of this country.

“Those who speak against this President and this government relative to human rights, relative to drug-related killings. They are chorusing the same line,” Panelo said.

“They are getting the information from the critics and detractors of the President. When this people issue a statement and our newspapers print it, that’s their basis and they believe that hook line and sinker. So unconsciously they appear to be in conspiracy. Hindi nila siguro alam but parang iyon ang lumalabas, kasi pare-pareho ang mga sinasabi nila (Perhaps they don’t know but that’s what it looks like since they’re saying the same things),” he added.

Violation of the Rome Statute

Panelo insisted that Bensouda’s decision to push through with preliminary investigation was violating the provisions of the Rome Statute.

“The Rome Statute says, when there is a preliminary investigation and/or proceeding relative to that, then if this was started prior to the withdrawal of a state-party, then the ICC can proceed; but there is no preliminary investigation to speak of, only a preliminary examination,” Panelo said.

Panelo explained that preliminary examination involves the process of determining whether or not ICC can take jurisdiction over the country.

On the other hand, he said preliminary investigation shows that it has already determined that it has jurisdiction.

The Presidential Spokesperson maintained the ICC had no jurisdiction over the Philippines since the country has a judicial system which is “robust and functional, and very effective”.

Fatou argued that the ICC retains its jurisdiction over crimes committed during the time the country was party to the Rome Statute and may still exercise its jurisdiction even after the withdrawal become effective.

Earlier, Panelo defended the drug war saying it is anchored on “national survival” as part of the government’s duty to fight criminality.

He also denied that extrajudicial killings are state-sponsored and that there is a culture of impunity under the Duterte administration. (PNA)