MANILA – Malacañang on Monday said the election of the late Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago as judge of the International Criminal Court (ICC) was “void”, as it maintained that the Philippines was never part of the tribunal.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the Philippines never became an official member-state of the ICC as the government supposedly failed to publish its ratification of the Rome Statute, the treaty which created the ICC, in the Official Gazette or a newspaper of general circulation.
Thus, Santiago’s nomination and election was void from the start, he said.
“If the position is we’ve never been a state party, then logically it is void, unless the international court says it is not,” Panelo said in a Palace press briefing.
“That’s a legal issue eh. As far as we are concerned, they never assumed jurisdiction over us. As far as they are concerned, they assumed jurisdiction because there was a treaty.”
Another Filipino, former University of the Philippines law college dean Raul Pangalangan, currently sits as ICC judge.
The ICC had said Pangalangan, whose term ends in March 2021, can stay on as judge despite the Philippines’ withdrawal from the Rome Statute.
Asked what the Philippine government will do with Pangalangan’s appointment, Panelo said: “We don’t have to pull out anybody. If the position is we were never under the jurisdiction of the court, then it behooves whoever is there to do something for himself.”
Manila moved to quit after the body launched a preliminary examination in 2018 of President Rodrigo Duterte's drug crackdown that has killed over 5,000 in anti-drug operations and drawn international censure.
Duterte's drug war is his signature policy initiative and he defends it fiercely, especially from international critics like Western leaders and institutions which he says don't care about his country.