Duterte orders withdrawal of Philippines from Rome Statute creating ICC
The Philippines is withdrawing as a state party to the Rome Statute amid the preliminary examination by the International Criminal Court against President Rodrigo Duterte and the call for him by the United Nations human rights chief to undergo psychiatric examination.
The Philippine withdrawal was contained in a statement, which Duterte issued on Wednesday.
"Given the baseless, unprecedented and outrageous attacks on my person as well as against my administration, engineered by the officials of the United Nations, as well as the attempt by the International Criminal Court special prosecutor to place my person within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, in violation of due process and the presumption of innocence expressly guaranteed by the Philippine Constitution and recognized no less by the Rome Statute, 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," Duterte said.
UN High Commission on Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein has said Duterte might need "psychiatric evaluation" after his administration petitioned the court to include some 600 left-leaning individuals, including a Filipino UN rapporteur, in the terrorist list.
Duterte said the actuations and statement of Al-Hussein, as well as that of Agnes Callamard, UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, "readily show international bias and refusal of some sectors of the international community to support the Philippines' legitimate efforts at self-determination, nation-building and independence from foreign influence and control."
He also branded as malicious the preliminary examination being conducted by ICC prosecutor Fatou Besouda against him.
"It is apparent that the ICC is being utilized as a political tool against the Philippines," Duterte said.
On his statement the withdrawal is effective immediately, Duterte claimed Article 127 of the Rome Statute was not applicable as far as the effectivity of the Philippines as a signatory to the Rome Statute is concerned, "for the reason that there appears to be fraud in entering such agreement."
Under Article 127 of the Rome statute, a state may withdraw from the Statute through written notification to the Secretary General of the United Nations and this shall take effect one year after the date of receipt of the notification, unless the notification specifies a later date.
The same Article also provides a State shall not be discharged, by reason of its withdrawal, from the obligations arising from this Statute while it was a Party to the Statute.
"Its withdrawal shall not affect any cooperation with the Court in connection with criminal investigations and proceedings in relation to which the withdrawing State had a duty to cooperate and which were commenced prior to the date on which the withdrawal became effective, nor shall it prejudice in any way the continued consideration of any matter which was already under consideration by the Court prior to the date on which the withdrawal became effective," the Statute read.
Duterte said the Rome Statute is "not effective and enforceable" in the Philippines, citing the lack of the treaty's publication.
He said the effectivity of the Rome Statute, which is 60 days after the Philippines' submission of its ratification to the Secretary General, could not prevail over the domestic law.
"An international law cannot supplant, prevail or diminish a domestic law," said Duterte, a lawyer.
Even assuming the ICC has jurisdiction over him, Duterte argued that the acts complained against him do not fall under the enumerated grounds by which the UN court could assume jurisdiction.
"The acts allegedly committed by me are neither genocide nor war crimes. Neither is it a crime of aggression or a crime against humanity," he said.
Filipino lawyer Jude Sabio, with the backing of opposition Senator Antoinio Trillanes IV and Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano, filed the complaint against Duterte before the ICC for allegedly committing crimes against humanity due to his bloody war on illegal drugs.
Duterte insisted the killings of drug suspects during the "process of legitimate police operation lacked the intent to kill."
He said the police merely acted in "self-defense," which is a justifying circumstance under the Revised Penal Code, hence, "do not incur criminal liability."
The 72-year old president said when the Philippines ratified the Rome Statute, it was made to believe that the principle of complimentarity shall be observed; the principle of due process and the presumption of innocence as mandated by the Philippine Constitution shall prevail; and that the legal requirement of publication to make the Rome Statute enforceable shall be maintained.
But he said the "very considerations upon which the Philippines agreed to be a signatory to the Rome Statute have not been observed nor complied with, hence, the rescission of such agreement or the withdrawal of our country's ratification of the Rome Statute is in order."
Asked if the President was afraid of the ICC for coming out with such a decision, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said, "Definitely not."
The Philippines acceded to the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the ICC, when it deposed its instrument of ratification at the UN in New York on August 30, 2011.
It entered into force for the Philippines on November 1 of the same year as the 117th signatory to the Statute. Celerina Monte/DMS