Metro Manila, Philippines — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said the national government will “not lift a finger” to assist the International Criminal Court (ICC), calling the tribunal a threat to sovereignty.

“Let me say this for the 100th time, I do not recognize the jurisdiction of the ICC in the Philippines. I consider it as a threat to our sovereignty, therefore, the Philippine government will not lift a finger to help any investigation the ICC conducts,” Marcos told reporters on Tuesday.

“However, as ordinary people, they can come and visit the Philippines pero hindi kami tutulong sa kanila [but we will not help them]. In fact, binabantayan namin sila [we’re keeping an eye on them],” the president said when asked if the ICC agents were already in the country.

There have been rumors that ICC investigators have entered the country to probe the anti-drug campaign of former President Rodrigo Duterte, but the Department of Justice (DOJ) said it has not received any communication from the ICC.

“As of today, the DOJ has not received any official communication or confirmation regarding the presence of the ICC within the country,” it said in a statement.

The DOJ also stated that the Department of Foreign Affairs had not issued an advisory regarding the ICC’s presence, which is required for interdepartmental coordination on sovereignty, and before any foreign entities could conduct official activities in the country.

“Having withdrawn from the ICC, the Philippines has no legal duty to comply with any obligations or proceedings thereunder,” it stressed.

Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra echoed the president’s statement, saying there are national agencies that can investigate the Duterte administration’s drug war.

“I repeat my admonition to all those who have legitimate complaints about any abuses committed during the war on drugs: Our own national institutions are ready to investigate and prosecute all those who have violated the law,” Guevarra said.

Senator Bato dela Rosa, the national police chief when the Duterte administration launched its drug war, recently urged the Marcos government to “be man enough” and tell him its real stance on the ICC probe.

Marcos, meanwhile, called on government agencies not to reply to the ICC should the tribunal attempt to contact them.

“‘Wag niyo sasagutin. ‘Yun ang sagot natin [Don’t answer. That’s our answer], he said.

Marcos reiterated that the Philippines will not assist “in any way, shape. or form” any investigation the ICC is conducting in the country.

Marcos’ move a ‘mistake’

Meanwhile, lawyer Kristina Conti — assistant to counsel at the ICC — called the president’s insistence a “legal and political mistake.”

“Marcos, Jr. should think hard over how history will judge his obstinate refusal to bring justice to the victims of the ‘war on drugs,’” she wrote on the online platform X (formerly Twitter).

Conti, who is also secretary general of the National Union of Peoples Lawyers’ Metro Manila chapter, has been assisting drug war victims. She reiterated the group’s position that the ICC probe has strong legal basis.

“We must rise above the chaos and treachery of backstabbing and politicking to see the larger picture,” she said.