MANILA -- Malacañang on Sunday reiterated it was never a party to the Rome Statute, which created the International Criminal Court (ICC).
This, as the country is poised to officially quit the ICC on Sunday, though the beleaguered tribunal has pledged to pursue its examination of possible crimes in the government's deadly drug war.
"The Philippines cannot leave that which has never joined in the first place. Our position on the matter remains clear, unequivocal and inflexible: The Philippines never became a state party to the Rome Statute which created the ICC. As far as we are concerned, this tribunal is non-existent and its actions a futile exercise," Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement Sunday.
Panelo also said the ICC's probe into the government's deadly war on drugs is a form of interference.
"Should the ICC proceed with its undertakings relative to the Philippines and violate the provisions of the instrument which created it in the process, it can only mean that it is bent on interfering with the sovereignty of our republic," he said.
"Such intrusion can only validate the theory of the countries that withdrew their membership and those that do not want to join it that the ICC continues to exercise unaccountable prosecutorial powers and has become a tool for political prosecution thereby a threat to the national sovereignty of countries," Panelo added.
Manila's withdrawal is to become final 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.
Manila moved to quit after the body launched a preliminary examination in 2018 of President Rodrigo Duterte's drug crackdown that has killed thousands 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.