Duterte Says The Philippines Is Leaving International Criminal Court

Randolph Lopez
March 18, 2018

An ICC prosecutor announced last month that she was opening a preliminary examination into possible crimes against humanity over alleged extrajudicial killings in Duterte's drug crackdown, angering the president.

Duterte had initially dared the ICC to indict him, saying he was willing to rot in jail to save Filipinos from drugs, which he says are destroying his country.

"A state party withdrawing from the Rome Statute would negatively impact our collective efforts towards fighting impunity", ASP president O-Gon Kwon said.

Roque, who was a prominent advocate for the Philippines' joining the ICC in 2011, said he was saddened by the President's decision but he supports Duterte's move.

Apart from the alleged ICC's "politicization" of Duterte's drug war, Roque said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein's recent remark that Duterte should take a psychiatric test also contributed to the pulling out of the Philippines' membership from the Hague-based court.

"This is an embarrassing attempt to create legal cover, and a self-serving effort to avoid accountability and place himself above Philippine and worldwide law", said Sam Zarifi, Secretary General of the global Commission of Jurists.

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The president's announcement comes just one month after the ICC launched its investigation into human rights abuses allegedly conducted by the president throughout his war on drugs which has led to the murder of an estimated 8,000 people since his election in 2016. "Now, it is being used as politics", Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano told a live TV interview.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque cautioned that there might be an "avalanche" of countries leaving the ICC while other nations are likely to refuse to join the worldwide court now.

"Coupled with the implication of culpability that the preliminary examination by the prosecutor Fatou Besouda unduly and maliciously created, it is apparent that the ICC is being utilized as a political tool against the Philippines", Duterte said in a statement distributed to media.

In a long statement dated March 13, Duterte said that Philippines would be removing its ratification of the Rome Statute immediately due to "unprecedented and outrageous attacks on my person ... engineered by the officials of the United Nations" and a supposed "violation of due process".

The ICC can only intervene when a member state is unable or unwilling to carry out investigations and prosecute suspected perpetrators. "If I go to prison, I go to prison", Duterte said during the launching of the Malasakit programs for the Visayas in Cebu City on February 12. Human rights lawyer Jude Sabio and opposition leaders Antonio Trillanes and Gary Alejano pressed separate and independeent charges of crimes against humanity against the Duterte administration. "There appears to be a concerted effort on the part of the United Nations special rapporteurs to paint me as a ruthless and heartless violator of human rights who allegedly caused thousands of extrajudicial killings". He argued Wednesday that the killings do not amount to crimes against humanity, genocide or similar atrocities.

The Duterte insults are not surprising considering his disdain for anyone who criticizes his bloody and deadly anti-drug program. China has called on the global community to respect the Philippines' sovereignty on the issue. A signatory country also can "not be discharged" of any cases already pending in the court before the withdrawal.

Other reports by GlobalViralNews

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