De Lima: PH exit from ICC won’t shield Duterte from prosecution
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte is “hallucinating” if he thinks he is already off the hook after the Philippines’ withdrew from the International Criminal Court (ICC).
This is what opposition Senator Leila de Lima said on Monday, a day after the country’s withdrawal from the world’s only permanent war crimes tribunal took effect.
“Duterte has the illusion that by withdrawing the Philippines from the Rome Statute, he has already escaped ICC jurisdiction. He can keep that illusion,” De Lima said in a dispatch from Camp Crame.
However, the senator said that while the President has the “illusion,” the ICC will continue its preliminary examination, “regardless of Duterte’s nervous protests and feigned confidence in his lawyers’ legal opinion on the matter.”
“Habang patuloy ang pag-iilusyon ni Duterte na nakatakas na siya, patuloy din lang ang paggulong ng hustisya laban sa kanya (While Duterte is under the illution that he is off the hook, the quest for justice will also continue),” De Lima said.
Malacañang earlier claimed that the Philippines was never bound to the ICC’s Rome Statute because it was not published in the Official Gazette.
De Lima, however, countered the Palace’s argument, calling it “wishful thinking and warped reasoning.”
“In the first place, only a country that admits to be a state party to the Rome Statute can withdraw,” she said.
Despite the withdrawal, De Lima said the Philippines is still obligated to cooperate with the international court in any proceeding that was started before the withdrawal.
The senator also noted that the withdrawal “does not prejudice the ICC’s cognizance of the matter on the Philippine situation already under its consideration prior to withdrawal.”
“This simply means that withdrawal is not an escape hatch for any public official of a State party who withdraws his country from the ICC on the mistaken belief that this would shield him from prosecution under the Rome Statute,” she said.
“Applied to Duterte and other administration officials and even civilian parties complicit in his EJK (extrajudicial killings) campaign, this means that the ICC continues to exercise jurisdiction over crimes against humanity they committed before March 17, 2019,” she added.
De Lima insisted that this covers extrajudicial killings and murders carried out by police officials and vigilantes under the government’s so-called war on drugs from June 30, 2016 to March 16, 2019.
The Philippines’ withdrawal became final a year after it notified the United Nations (UN) that it was quitting the ICC on March 16, 2018. /ee
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