The Philippines has pulled out of the Rome Statute apparently to pre-empt a United Nations human rights investigation into President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, The Manila Times Online reported on Thursday.
The withdrawal decision was announced on Thursday by President Duterte. “I therefore declare and forthwith give notice…that the Philippines is withdrawing its ratification of the Rome Statute effective immediately,” he said in a statement.
A prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, the world’s only permanent war crimes court created by the Rome Statute in 2002, announced a preliminary examination into alleged extrajudicial killings in February, acting upon complaints filed by a human rights lawyer and two opposition lawmakers.
On Wednesday, Duterte said the attempt by the ICC prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, to place him within the jurisdiction of the court,”inviolation of due process and the presumption of innocence expressly guaranteed by the Philippine Constitution and recognized no less by the Rome Statute,” led to his decision to pull out of the Rome Statute.
“An international law cannot supplant, prevail or diminish domestic law. Even assuming that ICC can have jurisdiction over my person, still the acts complained of purportedly committed by me do not fall under the enumerated grounds by which the ICC can assume jurisdiction,” said Duterte.
He defended the drug-related killings anew, saying that acts being attributed to him were neither war crimes nor genocide. He reiterated that the drug-related killings “lacked the intent to kill” and were the results of legitimate police operations.
Police have said they killed nearly 4,000 drug suspects as part of the campaign, but rights groups claim the actual toll may be around three times higher.
In the House of Representatives, representative Teodoro Baguilate Jr. called on palace spokesman Harry Roque to provide better advice to Duterte, considering that Roque, a human rights lawyer, strongly pushed for the ratification of the Rome Statute during the Arroyo administration.
“Mr Roque should remember that he (Duterte) represents the people and the country, which belongs to a community of nations..unless it is our desire to be a pariah among nations,” said the lawmaker in a statement.