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ICC: Probe of Duterte et al to continue despite withdrawal

The International Criminal Court's proceedings on President Rodrigo Duterte's alleged crimes against humanity will continue despite his administration's decision to withdraw the Philippines from the tribunal.

Citing the case of Burundi, the court said it would retain jurisdiction over crimes it could prosecute "even after the withdrawal becomes effective."

"Thus, in the event of a withdrawal from the ICC, this decision will not affect the continuation of the preliminary examination process," the ICC told GMA News Online.

"Nor does it affect the continuing obligation of the State concerned to cooperate with the Court in relation to an investigation initiated before the withdrawal came into effect," it added.

The ICC statement runs in contrast with chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo's claim that the permanent court may no longer probe President Rodrigo Duterte after he announced that the Philippines was withdrawing its membership.

The ICC urged the Philippines, "an important State Party to the Rome Statute," not to proceed with its intention to quit.

The government on Friday formally notified the United Nations (UN) of its intention, two days after Duterte's declaration.

His decision to withdraw came more than a month after the ICC Office of the Prosecutor announced it would begin a preliminary examination of the allegations against Duterte and several of his senior officials over the conduct of their administration's crackdown on illegal drugs.

Duterte has said the ICC had no jurisdiction over him.

The ICC acknowledged that withdrawal was a sovereign decision subject to the provisions of Article 127 of the Rome Statute.

This rule provides that any withdrawal would become effective only one year after a state party notifies the UN Secretary General.

The ICC claimed it has "given a voice" to victims of atrocities such as war crimes, torture, willful killing and the destruction of cultural property.

"Any act that may set back the global movement towards greater accountability for atrocity crimes and the international rule of law is, therefore, regrettable," it said.

The ICC also said the Philippines' announced withdrawal would not affect the status of former University of the Philippines College of Law dean Raul Pangalangan, who has been a judge in the ICC since 2015.

"The withdrawal would not affect the status of the judge from the Philippines as the Rome Statute only refers to a requirement of State Party nationality at the time of election but not afterwards," it said.

"Once elected and sworn in, the judges shall hold office for a term of nine years in accordance with the Statute and the principle of judicial independence." —NB, GMA News