BUHI, Camarines Sur - (UPDATE) Vice President Leni Robredo said Thursday that the Philippines' planned withdrawal from the International Criminal Court would remove a safeguard against possible abuse by government officials.
Robredo, who quit President Rodrigo Duterte's Cabinet in Dec. 2016 due to policy differences, likened the ICC to a "safety net" for victims of human rights abuse.
"Delikado ito sa future generations. Kasi, papa'no kung naging mapang-abuso 'yung nakaupo. Wala na tayong malalapitan," Robredo said.
(This is dangerous for future generations. What if those in power become abusive and there's no one left to run to?)
Duterte said on Wednesday that he would withdraw Manila's ratification of the Rome Statute, which created the ICC. He said the tribunal had no jurisdiction to investigate him over killings linked to his war on drugs.
Robredo said the Philippines' commitment to international agreements would become "questionable" should it exit the ICC.
Her political party, the Liberal Party, also hit Duterte's proclamation, which came after Malacañang announced the ICC would start "preliminary examination" into crimes against humanity charges against him.
"Where did the strong, fierce President go? He used to say that if you did nothing wrong, you need not hide, and there is nothing to fear from justice," a statement by the former Quezon Rep. Erin Tañada, the party's vice president on external affairs, read.
Lawyer Jude Sabio said in his communication to the tribunal that Duterte had "repeatedly, unchangingly and continuously" committed crimes against humanity and that under him, killing drug suspects and other criminals has become "best practice" in the pursuit of his drug war.
When the government was notified about the court's initial proceedings, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte has been informed and has said he would gladly face the ICC himself if the charges against him progressed.
“The President has said that he also welcomes this preliminary examination because he is sick and tired of being accused of the commission of crimes against humanity,” Roque said.
- with a report by Mylce Mella, ABS-CBN News