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)
THERE IS NO TRUTH to rumors that Philippine authorities are throwing dead bodies of criminals into Manila Bay for the fishes to feast on.
Malacañang on Monday branded as “hearsay” a report alleging that bodies of drug suspects were being dumped in Manila Bay.
On Friday, Qatar-based news network Al Jazeera published a report quoting a Filipino fisherman as saying that he and his buddies have been dumping bodies of drug suspects in highways and in Manila Bay on the orders of the police.
In a Palace briefing, Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra dismissed the report as mere allegations since it has not been substantiated with any other evidence.
“Well, as far as we are concerned, those are mere allegations. If there are no evidence to back that up, then that remains as hearsay,” Guevarra said.
After the report was published, detained Senator Leila de Lima, one President Duterte’s staunchest critics, called for a Senate investigation into the alleged practice, which she dubbed “bangkay sa bangka.”
Senator Leila de Lima on August 3, filed a resolution to probe Al Jazeera’s reports.
The probe will look into how suspects are dumped into Manila Bay under Duterte’s war on drugs, she said.
“These reports point to an alarming and reprehensible defect in our criminal justice system where an apparent cycle of impunity is embedded and reinforced,” she said in a statement.
The detained Senator said police pay fishermen to do the dirty work.
“Unscrupulous law enforcement agents, who are emboldened into summarily executing drug suspects rather than arresting and prosecuting them, are themselves the investigators of the crimes they have committed and are, thus in a unique position to hide their crimes by resorting to various methods of disposing of evidence,” the senator said.
“The manner in which these bodies were disposed of is starkly similar to the way that the members of the DDS allegedly disposed of the remains of some of their victims,” she said.
She was referring to an earlier testimony of Edgar Matobato, a self-proclaimed member of the Davao Death Squad (DDS), that the allegedly Duterte-backed gunmen dumped bodies of their victims into the Davao Gulf.
Duterte had promised during the campaign period that, if elected President, he would “fatten the fish in Manila Bay by dumping 100,000 bodies of drug users and pushers.”
The Senator, who is imprisoned since the last week of February due to drug charges, said the practice may have been one of the reasons why “the number of deaths in the war against drugs has not been updated or altogether been kept from the public.”
The government has repeatedly pointed out to local and foreign critics that the number of deaths being reported as killed in the war against drugs — from 7,000 to 9,000 — were overblown.
Latest Philippine National Police (PNP) data show that a total of 3,200 drug personalities were killed in legitimate anti-drug operations in the first year of the Duterte administration.
The PNP has also determined that out of the 12,833 homicide cases from July 1, 2016 to June 16, 2017, 2,098 deaths were drug-related and 2,535 non-drug related.
In the meantime, police said that a total of 8,200 homicide cases are under investigation “with motives to be determined.” ( with Cielito M. Reganit/PNA)
First draft of Senate Justice Committee report onEJKs recommends filing of charges vs. DDS hitman
Senator Richard “Dick” Gordon on Monday, October 17, said that the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights has already finished the first draft of a committee report on the Senate inquiry into extrajudicial killings.
“We have finished the first draft. We’ll go with the second draft hopefully as early as tomorrow (Tuesday) or as late as Wednesday. It will be (released) before the break,” Gordon told reporters in an interview.
Gordon did not reveal the contents of the committee report but said that the Senate panel will recommend the filing of charges against witness and self-confessed Davao Death Squad (DDS) hitman Edgar Matobato.
“He can be charged with perjury and murder because he admitted. We will submit it to proper authorities for proper disposition,” Gordon said.
The senator, however, said that he still does not trust the testimony of Matobato since it was riddled with “lies.”
Also included in the committee report will be recommendations to make it “easier” for wayward police officers to be charged, Gordon said.
“In the future it will be easier for them (police) to be charged,” the senator further said.
Asked if he believed that extrajudicial killings were state-sponsored, Gordon pointed out that killings began even before the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
“If you look at our reports, there are many from 2010 to 2016. We are looking at the extrajudicial killings. There are many of them,” he said.
“Definitely, there are many killings. To be fair, there were many killings in the past that have not been solved. It only seems to be a fad now because our President is noisy,” he added.
Gordon also said that he believed that there are many police officers involved in killings but refused to describe them as state-sponsored or state-inspired killings noting that the cops were “moving on their own.”
He meanwhile assured that President Duterte will be “safe” from any charges for now since the existence of extrajudicial killings related to the intensified anti-illegal drugs campaign and to the DDS has not been proven.
Senator Leila de Lima, former chair, now member of the committee, said that she would have to review the report before she decides whether to concur or decent.
She said that she found it “premature” to terminate the Senate hearings without inviting other witnesses which were going to be presented by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).
“I don’t like it that there is termination of proceedings. To me it’s still premature. Why don’t we listen to the other CHR witnesses? Any conclusion that the killings are not state-sponsored to me would also be premature,” de Lima said.
Last week, Gordon decided to terminate the Senate inquiry into extrajudicial killings without inviting witnesses meant to be presented by the CHR.
Gordon also said that there was no need to hear Matobato’s testimony any longer.
De Lima meanwhile said that she found Gordon’s recommendation to charge Matobato with perjury without basis.
“I don’t think there is a good basis for perjury because the guy says that what he is saying is true and there is evidence. The testimony of Edgar Matobato should not be immediately dismissed,” de Lima said.(PNA)
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