PH withdrawing from ICC â" Duterte
President Rodrigo Duterte talks to troops at the Edward Andrews Air Base in Zamboanga City on Saturday, March 10, 2018. (Photo from an RTVM video)
President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday said he would withdraw the Philippinesâ ratification of the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the International Criminal Court (ICC), due to âbaselessâ accusations against him by UN officials and violations of due process by the ICC.
The Presidentâs announcement came a month after ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said she would start a preliminary examination of a complaint accusing Mr. Duterte of crimes against humanity in connection with his bloody war on drugs.
In a statement, Mr. Duterte declared âthat the Philippines is withdrawing its ratification of the Rome Statute effective immediately.âADVERTISEMENT
He directed Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea to give notice of the Philippinesâ withdrawal, according to presidential spokesperson Harry Roque.
âThe accusations of these United Nations officials have the effect of painting me guilty before the eyes of the world. There appears to be a concerted effort on those aforesaid United Nations officials to paint me as a ruthless and heartless violator of human rights,â the President said, referring specifically to the special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, Agnes Callamard, and UN human rights chief Zeid Raâad al-Hussein.
The ICC attempt to acquire jurisdiction over him, he said, violated his rights to due process and presumption of innocence.
Citing a technicality, Mr. Duterte said the Rome Statute could not be enforced in the Philippines because it was not published in the Official Gazette.
But human righ ts advocates, the Presidentâs critics and the political opposition said withdrawing from the Rome Statute would not save him from the charges.
âIf Duterte thinks he can get away from the ICC complaint because of this withdrawal from the Rome Statute, he could not be more wrong,â Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano said in a statement.
âIt will not erase his crimes. It will only highlight his guilt,â Alejano said.ADVERTISEMENT
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate said the withdrawal from the treaty was âintended to escape accountability by present and even future officials for crimes committed against the people and humanity.â
âFor all the bluster of the present administration in the manner it launched its bloody wars, this withdrawal also means that it is gravely petrified of the long arm of the law and accountability,â Zarate said.
In his statement, Mr. Duterte said Callamard and Zeid, who said last week that the President may need to see a psychiatrist, âreadily show international bias and refusal of some sectors of the international community to support the Philippinesâ legitimate efforts at self-determination, nation building and independence from foreign influence and control.â
âCoupled with the implication of culpability that the preliminary examination by Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda unduly and maliciously created, it is apparent that the ICC is being utilized as a political tool against the Philippines,â he added.
Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat Jr. said the Presidentâs move was âunprecedented but obviously ill-advised.â
âSince this administration is so convinced that its drug war is justified and that there are no human rights violations then it should have nothing to fear about being investigated by the ICC,â he added.
The Senate ratified the Rome Stature in 2011 under President B enigno Aquino III.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said under Article 127 of the Rome Statute, âthe withdrawal has no effect on the cases which were filed before the withdrawal.â
âIâm sure the government will assert that it is no longer bound by the statute. That is a legal issue [that] will now be resolved by the court,â Drilon told reporters.
Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, one of Mr. Duterteâs fiercest critics, said the President made a political move âbecause he knows that there is no way out for him in the ICC.â
âHe cannot scare them the way he could do so with our courts,â Trillanes said in a statement.
The national president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Abdiel Dan Fajardo, said such an important national decision âshould undergo the same scrutiny, diligent study and debate that the countryâs prior decision of entering into the Rome Statute went through.â
The Presidentâs decision was âa significant setback to the decadeslong global effort of universal jurisdiction to ensure accountability for the most serious violations of human rights law,â according to Commission on Human Rights Chair Chito Gascon.
The New York-based Human Rights Watch said Mr. Duterteâs withdrawal from the treaty âdoesnât shut the door on the prosecutorâs scrutiny of the governmentâs horrendous track record of grave abuses.â
The National Union of Peoplesâ Lawyers (NUPL) called Duterteâs move a âcop-out.â
âHe wants to be immune and act with impunity both under domestic law and under international law,â said NUPL president Edre Olalia. â"Reports from Leila B. Salaverria, Nikko Dizon, Dj Yap, Vince F. Nonato, Christine O. AvendaÃ'O, Jaymee T. Gamil, Marlon Ramos and the wiresDon't miss out on the latest news and information.
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