MANILA, Philippines—Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Tuesday apologized for “hurting” the feelings of Linn Defensor Evangelista, younger sister of the late Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, when he said that the election of the former lawmaker in the International Criminal Court (ICC) as a judge was void.
Panelo, however, insisted that the concern and the hurt were “misplaced” as he maintained that calling Santiago’s election to the ICC “void” was just a “logical consequence” of the “theory” that the tribunal never assumed jurisdiction over the Philippines.
READ: Palace: Miriam Santiago’s election as ICC judge void
“I think I will apologize for hurting her feelings, but I think she misunderstood what I said. What I said, if the theory is that we never were under the jurisdiction of the ICC, it goes without saying, as logic, that any appointment to the international court would be void if that is the theory,” Panelo said in a Palace briefing.
The Palace official issued the statement after Evangelista, in a Facebook post, condemned Panelo’s remark, calling it “wrong, immoral and extremely disrespectful.”
“To say that the Philippine membership in the ICC is not valid and that Miriam was not a valid ICC judge is irresponsible, offensive and full of malice. At a minimum, this person (I refuse to say his name in the same posting where Miriam’s name is mentioned) should withdraw this pronouncement and apologize!” Evangelista wrote.
The Philippines officially pulled out of the ICC on March 17.
Malacañang has been claiming that the country was never an official member-state of the international tribunal as the Philippines’ ratification of the Rome Statute — the treaty that created the ICC — was never published in the Official Gazette.
In 2011, Santiago became the first Filipino and first Asian from a developing country to be elected as ICC judge. She stepped down from the post in 2014, citing health reasons. Two years later, she died after a battle with lung cancer. /muf
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