DESPITE the International Criminal Court’s resolve to proceed with the examination against President Rodrigo Duterte’s alleged war on drugs, the ICC will only waste its time and resources because the Philippines has withdrawn from the Rome Statute, insisting it has no jurisdiction over the President of a state, according to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.
Roque reiterated that the withdrawal from the tribunal would be the end of the process and it would not succeed.
In a report, the ICC asserted it would continue the preliminary examination on Duterte’s alleged human rights violation, despite his administration’s decision to withdraw the Philippines from the tribunal.
The ICC cited the case of Burundi which it said retained jurisdiction over crimes even after the withdrawal had become effective.
However, the Palace spokesperson said the ICC could proceed with their examination but without the cooperation of the police, the military or any government agencies, as it is no longer a member of the UN-backed tribunal
Roque said the Philippine withdrawal was considered a big loss to the ICC, and observed that this new development would discourage other Asian countries to join.
“… this is a development that the prosecutor should have considered when she decided to embark on preliminary examination,” Roque said.
“So to the ICC, to the Assembly of State Parties, they only have to thank the prosecutor for the end of our dream to achieve universal ratification for the ICC,” he added, stressing the move could lead to an avalanche of countries wanting to get out from the international court.
Roque also described the prosecutor’s decision to conduct a preliminary examination as a “wrong political move.”
“You just give countries confirmation on why they should not become a member of the ICC. Because you have shown that you can exercise your power without accountability… You are to blame if ICC becomes part of the dustbin of history,” he said, referring to the ICC prosecutor.
Meanwhile, the Commission on Human Rights said the challenge to the government at this time was to ensure the protection and respect for human rights and to strengthen the justice system.
“The need for justice and the rule of law to prevail amidst allegations of impunity cannot hide under the veil of threat to withdraw from the Rome Statute,” the Commission on Human Rights said in a statement.
“The Commission on Human Rights believes that if the Philippine government can ably demonstrate genuine respect for human rights, as well as working mechanisms that ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice and there is recourse for victims under our justice system, then international human rights bodies will find no reason to assume jurisdiction over what should otherwise be purely domestic affairs,” the Commission added.
Duterte cited “baseless, unprecedented and outrageous attacks” against him and his administration and the alleged attempt of the ICC prosecutor to place him under the tribunal’s jurisdiction.
“Declarations to withdraw from the International Criminal Court constitute a step-back in our commitment to address impunity locally and elsewhere in the world,” the CHR said.
In addition, the Commission said the withdrawal from ICC “does not remove the jurisdiction of the Court on crimes alleged to have been committed during the time the Philippines is still a State Party (Article 127, Rome Statute).”
The CHR also noted the unilateral decision to withdraw from the ICC was insufficient as this needs the ratification of the Senate, citing Senate Resolution No. 289.
“Considering that the ICC is a ratified, binding instrument, Senate concurrence is also required in withdrawing or terminating treaties,” the Commission said.
“Hence, an unsigned statement of withdrawal from the President alone is not sufficient for such declaration to take effect,” it added.
“Regardless of any treaty, the challenge for the government is to ensure that the human rights of every Filipino is respected and protected,” the CHR said.
“We must resist any signs that suggest encouraging impunity and continue to demand accountability for every instance of human rights violations that threaten the core of our humanity. In the end, no one is and should be above the law,” the Commission added.