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ICC: Communication vs Duterte can’t be withdrawn

The communication filed before the International Criminal Court (ICC) against President Rodrigo Duterte over the war on drugs cannot be withdrawn, the court clarified Tuesday.

In an email to GMA News Online, the ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor said they are obliged to register whatever information they receive.

“A submitted article 15 communication cannot be withdrawn… The Office cannot effectively destroy or return information once it is its possession or control,” they said, adding that supplemental information from the sender will also be registered.

“Any purported withdrawal of the communication would have no impact on the ongoing preliminary examination,” the ICC added.

Jude Sabio, lawyer of confessed hitman Edgar Matobato, earlier said he plans to withdraw a communication he filed before the ICC in 2017 over the “terrifying” and “gruesome” mass murder in the Philippines caused by the Duterte administration’s drug war.

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has started her preliminary examination on Sabio's 2017 communication in February 2018.

Duterte had announced that the Philippines was withdrawing from the ICC and this took effect in March 2019 but the examination continued.

The Supreme Court has yet to resolve a petition questioning the country's withdrawal.

Meanwhile, Bensouda is set to conclude her examination this year to determine whether there is "reasonable basis" to open an investigation. — Julia Mari Ornedo/BAP, GMA News