Philippines quits International Criminal Court over war on drugs


Compounding the problems of the Duterte administration is the initial inquiry on the charge of crimes against humanity being conducted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in relation to the war on drugs.

"It is doubly lamentable that members of the global community, who include our own partners in the war against terror, have allowed themselves to be used as pawns by these individuals and organizations in undermining our own efforts to restore the rule of law", Cayetano added.

The decision to withdraw was a "principled stand against those who politicise and weaponise human rights", the government said.

On Wednesday, March 14, Malacañang released Duterte's unsigned statement about the Philippines' "immediate" revocation of membership as a state party to the ICC.

PHILIPPINES President Rodrigo Duterte has announced that the Southeast Asian nation will remove itself from the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC), a month after prosecutors from the Hague-based court announced they would be launching a preliminary investigation into his controversial drug war.

Instead of listening to advices, criticisms and protests, President Duterte himself chose to disregard, insult and threaten critics of its bloody war on drugs.

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Sister Mary John Mananzan, a Benedictine nun who helped organize the Movement Against Tyranny opposition group, said Duterte's withdrawal from the ICC was "cowardly".

The principle of complementarity implies that ICC acquires jurisdiction over a situation if the state party is unable or unwilling to prosecute worldwide crimes happening within its territory that are cognizable by the ICC.

The president of the court's governing body, the Assembly of State Parties (ASP), expressed concern at the move by Manila.

A day after the president's announcement, the country's Catholic bishops said Duterte can not just set aside the Philippines' commitment to human rights.

The probe stemmed from communication filed by Mr Jude Sabio, lawyer of self-confessed Davao Death Squad hit man Edgar Matobato, who said he received orders from Mr Duterte, then Davao City Mayor, to kill criminals.

The bloodshed during the war on drugs, Duterte's signature policy, has caused global alarm and fierce criticism from several United Nations rapporteurs and human rights officials.

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Only the Philippines has taken the role of advocating that other countries in the region should become a member.

"A withdrawal would have no impact on ongoing proceedings or any matter which was already under consideration by the court prior to the date on which the withdrawal became effective", the ICC said, its first comment since Duterte's announcement.

The examination is meant to determine if the ICC has jurisdiction over the case.

"Instead of trying to desperately evade his worldwide obligations and escape accountability for his actions, President Duterte should just recognize the ICC processes and accord it due respect, " she said.

The attempt to withdraw from the ICC, therefore, will not save anyone responsible for crimes against humanity from the ICC's jurisdiction, ICC argued.

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It's transformation into a potential rights-abusing pariah worthy of ICC indictment, regardless of eventual rulings or outcomes, will haunt Duterte's strongman legacy.