Opposition lawmakers in the House of Representatives on Wednesday slammed the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte to withdraw the Philippines from the International Criminal Court (ICC), saying the move cannot save him from the complaint pending before the court against him.
In a statement, Magdalo party-list Representative Gary Alejano said Duterte "could not be more wrong" if he thinks that he could get away from the ICC complaint against him because of his decision to withdraw from the Rome Statute.
The ICC is currently determining whether it has jurisdiction to probe allegations against Duterte of state sanctioned killings in his war on drugs.
"The Philippines’ withdrawal would not affect the jurisdiction of the ICC with respect to the crimes and atrocities he committed against his own people," Alejano said.
"The crimes were committed during the time it was a state party. Further, the withdrawal shall take effect only after a year the notice was received by the UN Secretary General," he added.
Alejano, along with Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, has filed a supplement to the communication by lawyer Jude Sabio in April 2017 against Duterte, saying the declaration of martial law in Mindanao and the killings of drug suspects highlight the need to “immediately” open a preliminary examination.
Alejano said the withdrawal is an "obvious" but "futile" attempt to escape accountability in the international court.
"It will not erase his crimes. It will only highlight his guilt. If Duterte, as he himself has so boasted, is confident that he is innocent and not liable, then he must not impede the investigation," he said.
ACT Teachers party-list Representative Antonio Tinio shared the same view.
"President Duterte won't save himself from ICC investigation by withdrawing the Philippines as a State Party to the Rome Statute," he said in a separate statement.
He added that the Duterte's move to withdraw the Philippines from the Rome Statute is "utterly self-serving" and is driven by his panic of a possible trial before the ICC for crimes against humanity.
For his part, Bayan Muna party-list Representative Carlos Zarate said the withdrawal from the Rome Statute is "ominous."
"President Duterte's withdrawal from the Rome statute is intended to escape accountability by present and even future officials for crimes committed against the people and humanity. This is ominous of an even worse human rights situation in the country," he said.
"For all the bluster of the present administration in the manner it launched its bloody wars, this withdrawal also means that it is gravely petrified of the long arm of the law and accountability," he added.
Ifugao Representative Teddy Baguilat, meanwhile, said that the withdrawal is not only unprecedented but also ill-advised.
"Since this administration is so convinced that its drug war is justified and that there are no human rights violations then it should have nothing to fear about being investigated by the ICC," he said.
Akbayan party-list Representative Tom Villarin pointed out that Duterte seems afraid to face possible ICC trial.
"If these are baseless, unprecedented and outrageous attacks, then the right tack is to face it as a statesman with head hold high and without fear if indeed no misdeed happen," he said.
The Philippines ratified the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the ICC, in 2011.
Established in 2002, the permanent international court can prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression. —JST, GMA News