Running scared? Duterte withdraws from International Criminal Court

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"I therefore declare and forthwith give notice, as President of the Republic of the Philippines, that the Philippines is withdrawing its ratification of the Rome Statute effective immediately" he said.

He said the ICC probe amounted to "baseless, unprecedented and outrageous attacks on his person as well my administration".

Duterte said the global court has been used as a "political tool against the Philippines" over its attempts to put him under its jurisdiction amid an inquiry into his war on illegal drugs.

When asked if the President will inform the ICC about his decision, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said the President has directed Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea to "give notice that we are withdrawing as a State Party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court". The Philippine Senate was responsible for ratifying the treaty.

Established in 1998, the ICC is tasked with prosecuting people accused of war crimes, genocide and other high crimes when domestic courts are unwilling or unable to investigate allegations or prosecute suspects.

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"Since 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", Baguilat said.

"On the merits, one of the elements of the crime against humanity is murder, which is the crime of unlawful killing, and that any killing in connection with the drug war could not be unlawful killing because they are valid, legitimate police action", Roque said.

The ICC, which is based in The Hague, Netherlands, revealed in February that it is launching a "preliminary examination" of Duterte's war on drugs, which has resulted in the deaths of thousands of Filipinos.

This amid the court's preliminary examination of charges against the President, among them crimes against humanity for alleged abuses under his fierce anti-narcotics campaign.

Lawyer Abdiel Fajardo, president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, echoed the sentiment and said: "An important national decision such as the country withdrawing from the Rome Statute should undergo the same scrutiny, diligent study, and debate that the country's prior decision of entering into the Rome Statute went through".

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"The accusations of these United Nation officials have the effect of painting me guilty before the eyes of the world", Duterte said.

"If the Philippines truly believed that the ICC did not have jurisdiction over crimes committed in the country, they should challenge that in the proper way - which is at the ICC". On several occasions, he called the global body "useless" following ICC calls for probes into Duterte's notorious 'war on drugs.' . "Neither is it a crime of aggression or a crime against humanity", he said.

Duterte "welcomes the preliminary examination because he is sick and exhausted of being accused of the commission of crimes against humanity", Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said when the examination was announced.

"Also, we can not get out of ICC jurisdiction just like that".

Senator Antonio Trillanes said Duterte was withdrawing "because he knows that there is no way out for him in the ICC".

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Duterte, however, argues that the Philippines can do as it pleases because he rejects the agreement as a whole. In the country, a law must be published in the Official Gazette or newspapers before it takes effect, he said.

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