Duterte announces Philippines' 'immediate' withdrawal from ICC

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte delivers a statement in Manila in Nov. 2017. Duterte will withdraw the Philippines from the Rome Statute the treaty that established the International Criminal Court, according to a statement released to reporte

The International Criminal Court (ICC) on Friday (March 16) urged the Philippines not to withdraw from the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the ICC, as it warned that quitting the court would have no impact on ongoing proceedings.

In a statement on Wednesday, President Rodrigo Duterte said that he was pulling out of the Rome Statute for the "baseless, unprecedented and outrageous attacks" made by ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Besouda against him.

Harry Roque, a spokesperson for President Duterte, said in response that the ICC lacked jurisdiction over the case, calling the ICC a "court of last resort". 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.

"Duterte's statement highlights the urgent need for a UN-led investigation into the drug war killings", Singh said, adding that an inquiry would add global pressure on the Philippine government to stop the killings.

"The Philippines assures the community of nations that the Philippine Government continues to be guided by the rule of law embodied in its Constitution, which also enshrines the country's long-standing tradition of upholding human rights", it stated.

Things came to a boil when the ICC prosecutor's office recently announced it would conduct a preliminary investigation on alleged rampant human rights violations especially extra-judicial killings that arose from the country's bloody and violent war on illegal drugs.

The progressive lawmaker said the Statute also states that the withdrawal would not affect any cooperation with the Court in connection with criminal investigations and proceedings, and the withdrawing State's duty to cooperate in the said investigations which were commenced prior to the date on which the withdrawal became effective.

The Philippines has formally sent a letter of withdrawal from the Rome Statute, the treaty that governs the International Criminal Court (ICC).

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The Philippines ratified the treaty in 2011, which means the court has jurisdiction for crimes within its mandate committed from that year.

The ICC began investigating the crackdown in February over allegations of extra-judicial killings.

Activist priest Robert Reyes said the president's decision is "clearly an act of open defiance not only against the ICC but what it represents".

In response, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, said Duterte needed to be submitted to a psychiatric examination.

It is "intended to escape accountability by present and even future officials for crimes committed against the people and humanity", Zarate said. He added that he already brought this matter up before the ICC but it paid no heed to him.

The withdrawal takes effect one year after the secretary-general receives notification, according to ICC rules.

Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga, however, said the Philippines is sovereign and independent and whoever commits a crime "should be tried here with our people".

Lagman expressed fear that the global community will lose trust in the Philippines "because a country which does not honor its commitments does not deserve the trust of other states".

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