Philippines quits International Criminal Court over war on drugs

Duterte removes Philippines from International Criminal Court

Duterte still obligated to cooperate with ICC investigation despite withdrawal

"The preliminary examination by the prosecutor Fatou Besouda unduly and maliciously created, it is apparent that the ICC is being utilised as a political tool against the Philippines", said Duterte, who claimed the ICC was exhibiting a "clear bias" against himself and his administration.

"An worldwide law can not supplant, prevail or diminish a domestic law", he said, adding that the ICC announcement of an investigation on the drug war is a "violation of due process and constitutional presumption of innocence".

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr said yesterday that Duterte's decision was not meant to escape from any accountability but to protest an ICC prosecutor's decision to start examining a complaint against Duterte.

Last week, he said the ICC would "not in a million years" have jurisdiction to indict him.

But in a 15-page statement, dated March 13, Mr Duterte said he was withdrawing from the ICC's founding treaty, the Rome Statute, because of "baseless, unprecedented and outrageous attacks" by United Nations officials, and ICC actions that he said failed to follow due process and presumption of innocence.

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The Rome Statute established the ICC when it was adopted at a diplomatic conference in Rome in 1998.

Just last month, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte welcomed a preliminary investigation by the International Criminal Court.

"The Government remains resolute in effecting its principal responsibility to ensure the long-term safety of the nation in order to promote inclusive national development and secure a decent and dignified life for all", the letter added.

It's transformation into a potential rights-abusing pariah worthy of ICC indictment, regardless of eventual rulings or outcomes, will haunt Duterte's strongman legacy.

"A withdrawal would have no impact on ongoing proceedings or any matter which was already under consideration by the court prior to the date on which the withdrawal became effective", the ICC said, its first comment since Duterte's announcement. "Now, it is being used as politics", Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano told a live TV interview.

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"The decision to withdraw is the Philippines' principled stand against those who politicize and weaponize human rights, even as its independent and well-functioning organs and agencies continue to exercise jurisdiction over complaints, issues, problems and concerns arising from its efforts to protect its people", reads the document.

"Withdrawal does not take you out of the jurisdiction of the Rome Statute", he said.

They said Duterte's decision was an admission of guilt and a sign that he was panicking.

Lagman said Duterte "cannot overcome overwhelming evidence against him consisting of his own incriminating utterances of instigation and condonation, and unassailable records of extrajudicial killings consequent to his deadly war on drugs". "Detaching from the Rome Statute is abandoning a global bastion for the protection of human rights", Lagman said.

The ICC tries people for "genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and aggression", according to its website.

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Under the treaty, withdrawal is only effective one year after a country gives written notice of its decision to the United Nations secretary-general.

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