What’s your power? Duterte questions ongoing ICC probe

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 21 2018 08:56 AM

President Rodrigo Duterte gives a speech during the 10th Filipina Entrepreneurship Summit (FES10) at the World Trade Center in Pasay City on March 6, 2018. Alfred Frias, Malacanang Photo

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday said there may no longer be any basis for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to push through with its proceedings against him after the Philippines withdrew its ratification of a statute that created the international body.

Duterte last week announced he was withdrawing the Philippines from the Rome Statute, a United Nations treaty that created the ICC.

The President argued the treaty did not take effect in the Philippines because the previous government failed to publish it in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation.

In his speech Tuesday, Duterte said since the treaty did not become “part of the law of the land” in the Philippines, it would be wrong for the ICC to “continue with the investigation.”

"Sabihin mo, ‘we can continue with the investigation.’ Based on what? Why are you here? Why are you f***** in my country? What’s your power? What vests you? The treaty? The treaty was not published. When it is not published, it is as if there is no law at all. ‘yan ang simple diyan,” Duterte said during the general assembly of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines.

The ICC has started a preliminary examination on the charges filed by lawyer Jude Sabio against Duterte in connection with the administration's campaign against illegal drugs.

Last Friday, the ICC urged the Philippines not to push through with its plan to withdraw its ratification of the Rome Statute.

In a new statement released Tuesday, the ICC said the Philippines’ withdrawal from the ICC only becomes effective one year after the deposit of the notice of withdrawal to the UN Secretary-General.

"A withdrawal has no impact on on-going proceedings or any matter which was already under consideration by the Court prior to the date on which the withdrawal became effective; nor on the status of any judge already serving at the Court,” the ICC said.

Despite this provision in the Rome Statute, Duterte insisted that the withdrawal should take effect immediately.

While Duterte's claims that the ratified treaty should have been published in the Official Gazette in order for it to take effect, the Center for International Law, co-founded by now Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, said otherwise.

CenterLaw said the requirement for publication is no longer necessary because the treaty became effective when the Senate gave its concurrence. The Philippines signed the Rome Statute in 2000 and ratified and endorsed it in 2011.