President Rodrigo R. Duterte declared on Wednesday that the Philippines will be withdrawing its ratification of the Rome Statute, a United Nations (UN) treaty creating the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Duterte made this declaration in a three-page statement distributed by Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo to media.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, on his official Twitter and Facebook account, confirmed that Duterte indeed asked Panelo to give the notice.
“I confirm that President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines has asked his Executive Secretary to give notice that the Philippines is withdrawing as a State Party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court,” Roque said.
In the statement, Duterte cited “baseless, unprecedented and outrageous attacks” against him and his administration as a reason to withdraw as a state party.
“Given the baseless, unprecedented and outrageous attacks on my person as well as against my administration, engineered by the officials of the United Nations, as well as the attempt by the International Criminal Court special prosecutor to place my person within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, in violation of due process and the presumption of innocence expressly guaranteed by the Philippine Constitution and recognized no less by the Rome Stature, I therefore declare and forthwith give notice, as President of the Republic of the Philippines, that the Philippines is withdrawing its ratification of the Rome Statute effective immediately,” the President said in a statement.
Duterte also cited the “concerted effort of UN special rapporteurs” to paint him as a “ruthless and heartless” violator of human rights for allowing alleged extra-judicial killings in the country.
He stressed that the ICC prematurely made a public pronouncement of a preliminary examination which made him appear as though he was already charged for serious crimes under its jurisdiction.
“The actuations and statement of UN special rapporteur Agnes Callamard and UN High Commissioner on Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein readily show international bias and refusal of some sectors of the international community to support the Philippine’s legitimate efforts at self-determination, nation building and independence from foreign influence and control. Coupled with the implication of culpability that the preliminary examination by the prosecutor Fatou Besouda unduly and maliciously created, it is apparent that the ICC is being utilized as a political tool against the Philippines,” Duterte said.
Duterte said that the ICC failed to give “due respect” to the State Parties of the Rome Statute and that the UN had a “clear bias” against the Philippines.
Justice not upheld
Duterte said that the Philippines, in ratifying the Rome Statute, “was made to believe that the principle of complementarity shall be observed; that the principle of due process and the presumption of innocence as mandated by our Constitution and the Rome Statue shall prevail; and that the legal requirement of publication to make the Rome Statute enforceable shall be maintained.”
“When the Philippine government made itself a signatory to the Rome Statute, it was on the assumption that the internationally accepted principles of justice in relation to our Constitutional requirement on due process will be upheld,” Duterte said.
However, he decided to withdraw the country’s ratification since the Rome Statute did not observe or comply with these principles.
“As demonstrated above, the very considerations upon which the Philippines agreed to be a signatory to the Rome Statute have not been observed nor complied with hence the rescission of such agreement or the withdrawal of our country ratification of the Rome Statute is in order,” he added.
Although the withdrawal of the ratification takes effect one year after the date of receipt of the notification, Duterte noted that this is “not applicable” describing the treaty as a “fraud.”
“Is not applicable in so far as the effectivity of the withdrawal of the Philippines as a signatory to the Rome Stature is concerned, for the reason that there appears to be fraud in entering such agreement,” he added.
It may be recalled that Duterte has said several times that the ICC has no jurisdiction over him as the treaty is “not effective nor enforceable in the Philippines.”
“Under our law, particularly the New Civil Code, a law shall become effective only upon its publication in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation. Devoid of the legal required publication, the Rome Stature is ineffective and unenforceable,” Duterte said.
Moreover, he said that “an international law cannot supplant, prevail or diminish a domestic law.”
Even assuming that ICC can have jurisdiction over him, Duterte argued that the acts he allegedly committed do not fall under the enumerated grounds by which the ICC can assume jurisdiction.
Duterte again insisted that the deaths occurring were done as part of “legitimate police operation.”
“The acts allegedly committed by me are neither genocide or war crimes. Neither is it a crime of aggression or a crime against humanity. The deaths occurring in the process of legitimate police operation lacked the intent to kill. The self-defense employed by the police officers when their lives became endangered by the violent resistance of the suspects is a justifying circumstance under our criminal law hence they do not incur criminal liability,” Duterte said.
The Philippines signed the Rome Statute on December 28, 2000. It was ratified in August 2011, during the term of former President Benigno Aquino III. (PNA)