Palace: Duterte not trying to avoid charges by ICC

Palace: Duterte not trying to avoid charges by ICC

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.

President Rodrigo Duterte, in a statement on Wednesday, announced his government's decision to withdraw the country's ratification of the Rome Statute, saying the ICC's "politicized" nature has prompted him to do so.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr said yesterday that Duterte's decision was not meant to escape from any accountability but to protest an ICC prosecutor's decision to start examining a complaint against Duterte.

The decision was reached, as the firebrand President took a swipe at the UN's alleged attempt to depict him as "ruthless and heartless violator of human rights", and the ICC's plan to have jurisdiction over him.

Apart from the alleged ICC's "politicization" of Duterte's drug war, Roque said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein's recent remark that Duterte should take a psychiatric test also contributed to the pulling out of the Philippines' membership from the Hague-based court.

Through the note, the Philippines gave its assurance to the worldwide community that it continues to be guided by the rule of law embodied in the country's Constitution and its long-standing tradition of upholding human rights.

The president's announcement comes just one month after the ICC launched its investigation into human rights abuses allegedly conducted by the president throughout his war on drugs which has led to the murder of an estimated 8,000 people since his election in 2016.

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, a former co-chairperson of the Philippine Coalition for the ICC, had pushed the Philippines to ratify the Rome Statute.

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Global jurist groups and activists have criticised Mr Duterte for what they say is an attempt to evade justice.

There are now 123 parties to the ICC, including the Philippines. "You are to blame if ICC becomes part of the dustbin of history", he added.

He said the United Nations expert on extrajudicial killings, Agnes Callamard, had without any proof "pictured me as a ruthless violator of human rights" who was directly responsible for extrajudicial killings.

Last week, he said the ICC would "not in a million years" have jurisdiction to indict him.

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

It was Besouda who announced that the worldwide tribunal would have a preliminary examination on the crimes against humanity allegedly committed by Duterte.

He warned that summary killings related to the war against drugs will continue unabated because "with the ICC kicked out, there will be no more major independent monitors or censors to rein in or guard against atrocities with imposable sanctions". "Neither is it a crime of aggression or a crime against humanity", he said.

Rep. Gary Alejano (PL, Magdalo), also a member of the opposition bloc, said Duterte's pronouncement "has no binding effect on the membership of the country (in the ICC)".

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