Duterte still obligated to cooperate with ICC investigation despite withdrawal

Mar. 15, 2018

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has declared the Philippines’ withdrawal from the Rome Statute, a treaty which established the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC is currently conducting a preliminary examination into the Duterte administration’s bloody war on drugs.

In a statement released to media on Wednesday, March 14, Duterte said the withdrawal is due to a “concerted effort” between the United Nations special rapporteurs and the ICC special prosecutor to paint him as a “ruthless and heartless violator of human rights who allegedly caused thousands of extrajudicial killings.”

He also cited as reason the “baseless, unprecedented and outrageous attacks on my person as against my administration, engineered by the officials of the United Nations, as well as the attempt by the (ICC) special prosecutor to place my person within the jurisdiction of the (ICC).”

“All these acts are in violation of due process and constitutional presumption of innocence,” he added.

The Philippines became signatory to the treaty on Aug. 23, 2011.

In February, the ICC launched a preliminary examination into Duterte’s bloody war on drugs, criticized to have killed thousands of suspected drug peddlers, and have resulted to alleged extrajudicial killings, including of minors proven to be innocent.


National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers President Edre Olalia criticized Duterte’s moves as a “cop out” on his potential legal liability or responsibility.

“He wants to be immune and act with impunity both under domestic law and under international law,” he said in a statement. “The legal reasoning and factual narrative of the withdrawal are novel at best and skewed at worst.”

The bases and protocol for the withdrawal, Olalia said, are “either premature, assumes a fact not established, conclusory or inapplicable.”

“They are patently self-serving and unilaterally rearranges the cosmos of international law and its principles,” he added.

‘Duterte not yet off-the-hook’

ACT Teachers Party Rep. Antonio Tinio however said Duterte is not yet off-the-hook on the investigation of the international court even after he declared the withdrawal of the Philippines from the treaty.

Citing Article 127 of the Rome Statute, Tinio said the withdrawal “shall come into effect one year after receipt of notice.”

It further provides that “a State shall not be discharged, by reason of its withdrawal, from the obligations arising from this Statute while it was a Party to the Statute, including any financial obligations which may have accrued.”

The progressive lawmaker said the Statute also states that the withdrawal would not affect any cooperation with the Court in connection with criminal investigations and proceedings, and the withdrawing State’s duty to cooperate in the said investigations which were commenced prior to the date on which the withdrawal became effective.

“In short, since the ICC has already commenced with proceedings regarding Pres. Duterte’s war on drugs, it has the authority to proceed and the Philippine government has the obligation to cooperate with an investigation, regardless of the notice of withdrawal,” he added. (davaotoday.com)

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