Presidential spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque on Tuesday raised the possibility of the Philippines withdrawing its membership in the International Criminal Court amid the pending case against President Rodrigo Duterte over killings blamed on his anti-drug campaign.
Roque, a former human rights lawyers, told reporters that he would attend the ICC general debates in New York on December 7.
He said he would remind the ICC that it could only take jurisdiction if the local courts are unable to exercise authority over a criminal case.
“We agreed to be a member of the ICC because of the principle of complementarity; that the court will only exercise jurisdiction if our courts are unwilling or unable to exercise jurisdiction on any crime cognizable by the International Criminal Court,” Roque said.
“To violate the principle of complementarity would be to violate the very basis of our consent to be bound by the Rome Statute and if this will happen, then there may be a possibility that the Philippines, like the three other African states, may withdraw from the Rome Statute of the ICC,” he added.
The lawyer of confessed hitman Edgar Matobato, Jude Sabio, in April filed a complaint against Duterte and senior officials before the ICC, accusing them of crimes against humanity amid the drug war.
The office of ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda confirmed that it received the complaint.
Former presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella questioned the timing of the complaint, which was submitted ahead of the Philippines’ hosting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and Related Meetings.
In October last year, Bensouda said she was "deeply concerned about these alleged killings and the fact that public statements from high officials of the... Philippines seem to condone such killings".
Following her statement, Duterte said he was thinking about withdrawing from the ICC and follow the footsteps of his “idol,” Russian President Vladimir Putin. —NB, GMA News