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MANILA, Philippines - The International Criminal Court (ICC) clarified yesterday it was not preparing to

investigate the Philippines under President Duterte due to alleged extrajudicial killings amid the
administrations bloody war against illegal drugs.

Salvador Panelo, chief presidential legal counsel, said the statement of Fadi El Abdallah, spokesperson
and head of the ICC public affairs unit, telling reporters that there are no investigations or preliminary
examinations being prepared for the Philippines in relation to alleged extrajudicial killings is an
auspicious development.

Malacaang welcomed the news, saying the fight against the drug menace should not be distracted by
any foreign interference.

Apparently, the change of mind by the ICC in pursuing a probe is due to the realization that the
(extrajudicial killings) are not being committed pursuant to a state policy after a discreet investigation by
it, Panelo said in a text message to The STAR.

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An ABS-CBN News report quoted El Abdallah as saying the statement from ICC prosecutor Fatou
Bensouda with regard to thousands killed in the Philippines since Duterte assumed office in June and
launched a drug war was a warning.

This is part of the deterrent effect of the court to help de-escalate the tension sometimes by calling on
the different parties to be careful not to commit crimes then the ICC can intervene; but with regard to
the Philippines, there is no preliminary examination that has been opened and there is no investigation
ongoing, Abdallah said as he faced selected members of international media, including ABS-CBN, who
were given access inside the ICC in The Hague yesterday.

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The ICC also explained the run-up to the first stage of prosecution a preliminary examination was not
an overnight process and that protocols and procedures would take time.

If the ICC prosecutor wants to investigate on her own initiative, she must obtain the authorization of
the judges, so there is control of a chamber of three judges over this matter, Abdallah said.

Its not only the prosecutor deciding, the judges have to look into this decision, and the state
concerned may be able to present objections to that before the judges, he added.

Duterte recently announced that he might withdraw from the ICC to follow Russia, which did not ratify
its participation in the criminal court.

Senators, however, said it might not be that easy for Duterte to make good his threat because the Rome
Statute of the ICC, the worlds first permanent tribunal for war crimes, was ratified by the Senate.
Under the treaty, the ICC can step in when countries are unwilling or unable to dispense justice for the
core crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes or crimes of aggression.

The Philippines was one of the countries that drafted the treaty in 1998.

According to the ICC, if preliminary examinations are conducted before any withdrawal takes effect, the
cases will proceed even if the Philippines has already withdrawn its participation from the Rome Statute.

Last month, Bensouda said extrajudicial killings, which Duterte had been accused of, might fall under the
jurisdiction of the international tribunal if they are committed as part of a widespread or systematic
attack against a civilian population pursuant to a state policy to commit such an attack.

Duterte has repeatedly denied endorsing extrajudicial killings and has vowed to investigate the alleged
arbitrary or summary executions of drug suspects.

Yesterday, Duterte reiterated that he never ordered any extrajudicial killing in the country when he
declared war against illegal drugs.

We cannot wage a war against our own people I declared war (against illegal drugs and) that is why
they (ICC) want to investigate me. Where can you find (a violation) when you threaten rebels and drug
lords (by saying) you destroy them I admit it but is that a crime to say that? Duterte said.

Only the whites wanted to do it (investigation). How can it be a crime to declare that if you destroy my
country I will kill you? the President said during a press conference after visiting some wounded
soldiers in the Camp Navarro General Hospital in Zamboanga City.

Duterte added the phrase only meant to serve as a warning against those engaged in the illegal drug
trade, especially those victimizing the Filipino youth.

EJK? I dont know, I never ordered one. So, let us investigate, he added.