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Duterte announces PHL withdrawal from ICC

President Rodrigo Duterte announced on Wednesday that the Philippines is withdrawing from the International Criminal Court (ICC), which is currently looking into whether it has jurisdiction to probe allegations of state sanctioned killings in his war on drugs.

Duterte cited “baseless, unprecedented and outrageous attacks” against him and his administration and the alleged attempt of the ICC prosecutor to place him under the tribunal’s jurisdiction.

“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 tasked Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea to formally notify The Hague-based ICC about the Philippines’ decision, according to presidential spokesperson Harry Roque.

The Philippines ratified the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the ICC, in 2011.

Set up in 2002, the permanent international court can prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression.

Last month, the ICC's Office of the Prosecutor announced that it would begin its preliminary examination on the alleged extrajudicial killings associated with the government’s intensified anti-illegal drugs campaign, which kicked off on July 1, 2016.

The preliminary examination is a procedure conducted by the ICC to determine whether the case falls under its jurisdiction.

The tribunal can only issue summons if the requirements for initiating a full-blown investigation are met such as admissibility of the case, interest of justice, and the principle of complementarity should be implemented.

This means that the ICC can only investigate allegations of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes if the domestic courts are unable or unwilling to do so, which Malacañang said does not apply to the Philippines' situation.

Duterte said last week that "not in a million years" the ICC would it have jurisdiction to look into the allegations forwarded by lawyer Jude Sabio.

“The acts committed by me are neither genocide nor war crimes. Neither it is a crime of aggression or a crime against humanity,” the President said in his statement.

“The deaths occurring in the process of a 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 do not incur criminal liability,” he added.

Duterte also slammed the actions and statements of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein and UN special rapporteur Agnes Callamard in connection with the drug war.

“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,” he said.

“Given that the ICC shows a propensity for failing to give due respect to the State Parties of the Rome Statute and that there is clear bias on the part of the UN against the Philippines, the Philippines may very well consider withdrawing from the Rome Statute.”

Duterte’s move followed the action of other countries such as Russia.

In October 2016, 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 that same year following a dispute in 2015 when Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir visited the country for an African Union summit despite facing an ICC arrest warrant over alleged war crimes. —KBK, GMA News