ICC exit to cut aid? Other issues may be more important to PH allies, says analyst

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 17 2019 03:58 PM

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MANILA -- The Philippines will have to "wait and see" if its defection from the International Criminal Court would result in a slump in foreign aid, an international law specialist said Sunday, noting that other issues may be more important to Manila's allies. 

Manila quit the world's only permanent war crimes tribunal after the ICC launched in 2018 a preliminary examination of President Rodrigo Duterte's drug crackdown that has killed thousands and drawn international censure. 

The withdrawal could restrict receipt of foreign aid from countries that require the protection of human rights as a condition, warned Magdalo Party-list Rep. Gary Alejano. 

Lawyer Priya Pillai, however, noted that when it comes to international relations and politics, states "also, unfortunately, make trade-offs in what they see as important and what they see as less significant." 

"In the Philippine context, given the issues around the South China Sea, given the issues around the ascendancy of China, I suspect that [the] US and some of the other countries may put those on a higher priority than say human rights concerns," she told ANC. 
 
"You have to wait and see how it plays out... It is definitely problematic, but I think we have to see how that pans out ahead," she added. 

The Philippines' withdrawal from ICC becomes final on Sunday, a year after it told the United Nations that it was quitting the body. 

However, court officials have said the preliminary probe, launched in February 2018 by ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda into possible crimes against humanity in the drug war, would continue.

Under the court's rules, any matter under consideration before a nation leaves the court is still under its jurisdiction, noted Gilbert Andres, one of the counsels of the Philippine Coalition for International Criminal Court. 

A petition questioning Manila's defection from ICC is also pending before the Supreme Court, he noted. 

Andres also warned that the split with the tribunal could spawn rights abuses because "because one cannot invoke now the parallel means provided for in the ICC for an effective remedy against international crimes." 

The departure of the Philippines follows the court being hit in recent years by high-profile acquittals and moves by several nations to drop out, noted Prillai. 

"This is a court that is quite young and it's essentially a global experiment at this stage, which will have its ups and downs, and pros and cons," she said. 

There was no immediate information on whether or not ICC's Bensouda has found enough basis to launch a full-blown investigation into Duterte and his signature anti-narcotics policy, she said.