Duterte Spokesman: Philippines' Withdrawal From ICC 'Beginning of End' for Court

Sunday, 18 Mar, 2018

He denounced what he described as efforts to label him a heartless violator of human rights, and alleged that the court, the United Nations and non-governmental organizations were biased against him in particular and the Philippines in general. I can face the ICC.

"In fact, the Philippines now has an International Humanitarian Law Act, Republic Act 9851, which allows our courts to try cases cognizable by the ICC under the principle of complementarity".

While in theory withdrawal would not stop the court's inquiry into alleged crimes committed while the Philippines was a member, it could prove hard to make local authorities co-operate.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte this week announced his intention to withdraw from the court because he believed prosecutors were treating him unfairly.

But the Rome Statute also says a country backing out of the agreement doesn't excuse it from an obligation to cooperate with investigations that start before the withdrawal date.

In a formal letter addressed to United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, Philippine Ambassador to the UN Teodoro Locsin Jr stated his country's "decision to withdraw" was anchored by a "principled stand against those who politicize and weaponize human rights".

Mr Roque said Philippine courts were functioning well and exercise jurisdiction over any complaints.

This as the ICC announced that it would begin its "preliminary examination" into the communication filed by Jude Sabio, lawyer of confessed hitman Edgar Matobato, who accused Duterte, senior government officials, and several police officers of committing crimes against humanity in his controversial war on drugs, citing alleged extrajudicial slays. "You only have a simple really majority of states becoming members", he said.

"Duterte should be investigated", said Pabillo.

Philippines Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano denied that it was attempt to avoid prosecution by the ICC, however.

"We are still under the (ICC) jurisdiction".

He also said he would "love" to be executed by firing squad if found guilty by the ICC.

The ICC can only intervene when a member state is unable or unwilling to carry out investigations and prosecute suspected perpetrators. The panel of prosecutors is blaming the police who, they said, were not able to gather the evidence to merit the filing of a case.

They said Duterte's decision was an admission of guilt and a sign that he was panicking. London-based rights group Amnesty International called the withdrawal "misguided" and "cowardly".

The announcement of the investigation by the ICC was premature and implied he had already been charged for serious crimes, Duterte said.

Lagman said Duterte "cannot overcome overwhelming evidence against him consisting of his own incriminating utterances of instigation and condonation, and unassailable records of extrajudicial killings consequent to his deadly war on drugs".

People have been saying this all along; the Duterte administration could not solve the illegal drug problem with the use of uncontrolled violence and shortcuts that disregard human rights.

Ucanews.com reported Bishop Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon said the president might be "simply afraid" of a possible conviction for his "crimes against humanity".