Philippines informs UN secretary general of withdrawal from ICC

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 16 2018 10:21 AM | Updated as of Nov 29 2018 08:49 PM

The Philippine ambassador to the United Nations on Friday has formally informed the UN Secretary General of the government's decision to withdraw from the International Criminal Court.

Philippine Ambassador to the UN Teddy Locsin said the formal letter announcing the Philippine government's decision will be delivered to the UN Secretary General today.

"It came to me. How do I stop all the stupid talk in Manila? It must be delivered today. Manila said next week. I said 'No, today,'" he said on his Twitter page.

"I didn’t write that text though nor have I read it. I had other things to do. But I insisted it be delivered today. Not next week. The original from Manila was wrongly addressed and a mere fax. My girls corrected that, had it retyped on official paper, and I initialed it," he added.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said the Philippines is withdrawing from the ICC due to what he called "outrageous" attacks by U.N. officials and violations of due process by the ICC.

This, after the ICC said it will start a preliminary examination on a complaint against Duterte and other officials over alleged extrajudicial killings in the Philippines.

In a 15-page statement, dated March 13, Duterte said he was withdrawing from the ICC's founding treaty, the Rome Statute, because of "baseless, unprecedented and outrageous attacks" by U.N. officials, and ICC actions that he said failed to follow due process and presumption of innocence.

"There appears to be a concerted effort on the part of the U.N. special rapporteurs to paint me as a ruthless and heartless violator of human rights who allegedly caused thousands of extrajudicial killings," Duterte said.

The ICC's examination was premature, he added, and "effectively created the impression that I am to be charged ... for serious crimes falling under its jurisdiction."

Duterte's chief critics said the move was a U-turn that showed the tough-talking leader was now in panic mode.

"This is an embarrassing attempt to create legal cover, and a self-serving effort to avoid accountability and place himself above Philippine and international law," said Sam Zarifi, Secretary General of the International Commission of Jurists.

The London-based rights group Amnesty International called the withdrawal "misguided" and "cowardly".

Human Rights Watch called it "a barefaced attempt to shield him and high-ranking officials", noting that withdrawal took a year and the ICC could still prosecute international crimes committed while the Philippines was a member.

Philippine lawyers say Duterte's withdrawal will not stop any ICC inquiry.

"The withdrawal from the ICC only takes effect after a year from notification," said Celeste Mallari, a professor at the University of the Philippines Law College's Institute of International Legal Studies.

This means that the ICC can continue looking into any acts that took place since Duterte took office until the notification takes effect.

Duterte had previously said the Philippines had never fully ratified the statute that makes it a member of the ICC.

However, former chief Philippine government lawyer Florin Hilbay disagreed, saying the treaty was ratified by the Senate under then-president Benigno Aquino in 2011. With Agence France-Presse and Reuters