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


President Rodrigo Duterte is pulling the Philippines out of the ICC after a court prosecutor announced last month that a preliminary examination was underway into an accusation that the president and top officials had committed crimes against humanity during a deadly war on drugs.

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.

Duterte said Wednesday that the court can not have jurisdiction over him because the Philippine Senate's ratification in 2011 of the Rome Statute that established the court was never publicized as required by law.

The Philippines, under previous President Benigno Aquino, ratified in 2011 the Rome Statute which underpins the ICC, giving the tribunal authority to investigate crimes on its soil.

But under the Rome Statute, a withdrawal take effect one year after a member-country has given a one-year notice of its decision to the United Nations secretary-general. "What we're saying is [the ICC] will not have juristidction over the President's person", he added.

Opposition Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate called Duterte's move to withdraw the country from the Rome Statute a "grave setback to human rights and accountability".

The letter makes no mention of the withdrawal being "effective immediately" as Duterte insisted in his press statements announcing the country's bid to withdraw from the ICC.

Mr Duterte's chief legal counsel, Mr Salvador Panelo, said the president was "definitely not afraid" of an investigation from The Hague court.

"May I remind President Duterte that even if he declared the country's withdrawal from the treaty, it will not discharge our country of its obligations while it was still a party to the said agreement, " she said.

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The letter said that while the country withdrew from the global tribunal, it would continue to be guided by the Constitution, which enshrines the country's "long-standing tradition" of upholding human rights.

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.

Roque said that the ICC, in compliance with its complementarity rule, can only exercise jurisdiction over an individual if the local courts are unable to or unwilling to act on a certain case. He said the withdrawal was not a way to evade an ICC investigation.

In effect, the presidential spokesperson says that election to public office carries along with it the right to be disrespectful to others.

"Violation of human rights will aggravate".

Police say they have killed about 4,100 drug dealers in shootouts during official operations.

Another opposition lawmaker, Tom Villarin, said Duterte's action "would have unprecedented repercussions on our worldwide standing as a sovereign state".

"Centerlaw shares our people's fear that this attempt to withdraw from the ICC will plunge the country deeper into the quagmire of impunity - one that has already claimed thousands of lives", the NGO said in a statement.

IN the Philippines these days under President Duterte, it has become apparent that if you are a critic of the administration, you may be accused of being a destabilizer or a communist or working in conspiracy to oust the President.