De Lima: Duterte can't withdraw PH from ICC unilaterally


Posted at Nov 17 2016 09:34 PM

MANILA – Senator Leila de Lima on Thursday said President Rodrigo Duterte cannot just make a unilateral decision of withdrawing the Philippines’ membership in the International Criminal Court (ICC).

In a speech before his departure for Peru to attend the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit, Duterte said he might follow the move of Russia to withdraw from the ICC.

Duterte described the ICC as "useless" and expressed frustration about the West's allegations of extra-judicial killings and its failure to understand his crackdown on narcotics. He also blamed the United Nations for failing to prevent wars all over the world.

"They are useless, those in the International Criminal (court). They (Russia) withdrew. I might follow. Why? Only the small ones like us are battered," Duterte said on Thursday. 

De Lima, a lawyer, however said Duterte cannot just make the decision without getting the concurrence of the Senate.

“It seems that President Duterte is blustering again when he announced his intent to withdraw from the Philippines' membership to the International Criminal Court (ICC),” De Lima said in a statement.

“It would also do well for the President or his foreign policy and security advisers to consult with and get the consensus of the members of the Senate and even the public before making a very crucial decision on matters of national and international importance.”

De Lima said the Philippines should honor international agreements and conventions that promote and safeguard human rights and dignity of the people.

“It is his and our duty as a nation and as a people that the gravest crimes, such as genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, are not tolerated,” De Lima said.

Duterte has drawn flak from the international community for his bloody war on drugs, which has seen over 2,000 suspected drug pushers and users killed in just a span of three months.


Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an executive order removing Russia as a founding treaty of the ICC on Wednesday.

Duterte is seeking a meeting with Putin in Lima this weekend, which comes as he pursues an independent foreign policy aimed at weaning the Philippines from its long-time ally the United States. He has frequently praised Russia and China.

Duterte speculated that Russia's ICC move might be because of its air strikes in Syria.

"What could be the reason? I really would not know," he said. "Maybe to protect what they are doing in Syria, the incessant bombing and the killing of civilians."

Russia is under international pressure over the Syria air strikes, with some human rights activists and U.S. officials accusing it of bombing civilians and civilian targets. Russia has denied those allegations.

The ICC, of which the Philippines became a member in 2011, has received an ear-bashing from the outspoken Philippine leader. 

An ICC prosecutor last month said the Hague-based tribunal may have jurisdiction to prosecute the perpetrators of the drug-related killings.

Duterte said he was annoyed about the criticism he had received, and that "nobody was listening" to his reasons for having the crackdown, including U.S. President Barack Obama.

He took aim at U.S. foreign policy and the United Nations and said he would be happier if China and Russia called the shots under a new world order. 

"You know, if China and Russia would decide to create a new order, I will be the first to join," he said.

"The killings is endless," he said, referring to conflicts in the past and current. "The amount is splattering. That is our lesson. Just because it is America, it does not mean that it is good." - with Reuters