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Duterte: I might follow Russia, withdraw from ICC

Before heading to the APEC Summit to be held in Peru, President Rodrigo Duterte mulled following Russia's lead and withdrawing from the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Duterte said this after expressing how hurt he was when he was criticized for the spate of drug-related killings as his administration focused on eradicating narcotics trade in the country.

"Mind you, sabi ng Russia, 'We will protect you,'" he said in a pre-departure briefing in Davao City on Thursday.

"Ang problema, ang Russia withdrew from the International Court. What could be the reason? I really do not know. Maybe to protect what they are doing in Syria now, the incessant bombings and the killing of civilians... I might follow [Russia]. Why? Tayo lang maliliit ang binubugbog ng mga walanghiya," he said.

Duterte criticized the ICC for failing to prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by nations.

On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an executive order withdrawing the country's signature from ICC's founding treaty, whose pronouncements Moscow has derided as one-sided.

ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda previously expressed deep concern over the spate of drug-related killings under Duterte's administration as well as his statements that seemed to condone such killings.

"Let me be clear: Any person in the Philippines who incites or engages in acts of mass violence including by ordering, requesting, encouraging or contributing... to the commission of crimes within the jurisdiction of the ICC is potentially liable for prosecution before the Court," Bensouda said.

The Philippines has been an ICC member state since November 2011 "and as such, the Court has jurisdiction over genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity committed on the territory or by nationals of the Philippines," Bensouda said.

The Philippines has ratified the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the ICC, in 2011. The permanent international court can prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression.

Meanwhile, Russia announced that it would no longer ratify the Rome Statute on Wednesday after ICC's Office of the Prosecutor angered Moscow by referring to Russia's 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimea as an armed conflict. 

The United States also withdrew to ratify the treaty in 2002.

Previous withdrawals

In October, Gambia announced its withdrawal from the ICC, accusing the Hague-based tribunal of the "persecution and humiliation of people of color, especially Africans."

South Africa also withdrew from the ICC in October following a dispute last year when Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir visited the country for an African Union summit despite facing an ICC arrest warrant over alleged war crimes. —KG/JST/RSJ, GMA News