PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has decided to withdraw the Philippines’ ratification of a United Nations treaty that created the International Criminal Court, just as the international body started its preliminary examination of the charges against the Filipino leader in connection with the war on drugs.
In a statement released by his chief legal counsel Salvador Panelo, Duterte said he is withdrawing the Philippines’ ratification of the Rome Statute “effective immediately.”
By withdrawing the country’s ratification of the statute, the Philippines expects that the ICC will no longer have jurisdiction over it.
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.
Created in 1998 through the United Nations treaty called the Rome Statute, the ICC has jurisdiction over 124 of its members, including the Philippines.
It is the first permanent institution with the power to exercise jurisdiction over persons for the most serious crimes of international concern such as the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression, and is seen to help end impunity for the perpetrators of these crimes.
The ICC has since received over 12,000 complaints or communications. Nine of these cases have gone to trial and six verdicts have been delivered.
The Philippines signed the Rome Statute on December 28, 2000 and ratified and endorsed it in August 2011, during the time of Duterte’s predecessor, then President Benigno Aquino III.