Phl dis­en­gages it­self from ICC de­lib­er­a­tions

The Philippine Star - - FRONT PAGE - By JANVIC MATEO

The Philip­pines has dis­en­gaged it­self from the de­lib­er­a­tions of the state par­ties to the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court (ICC), months be­fore the coun­try’s with­drawal to the body takes ef­fect in March.

Philip­pine am­bas­sador to the Nether­lands Jaime Vic­tor Ledda de­liv­ered the coun­try’s state­ment dur­ing the assem­bly of state par­ties to the Rome Statute at The Hague on Thurs­day (early Fri­day in Manila).

“The Philip­pines’ de­ci­sion to with­draw from the Rome Statute of the ICC is our prin­ci­pled stand against those who politi­cize hu­man rights, even as our coun­try’s 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,” read the state­ment.

“In view of our with­drawal… the Philip­pines dis­en­gages it­self from the de­lib­er­a­tions on the Om­nibus Res­o­lu­tion and from any con­sen­sus that may be reached in the course of this Assem­bly,” it added.

The Philip­pines will cease to be a party of the Rome Statute, which cre­ated the ICC, on March 17, one year af­ter the coun­try in­formed the United Na­tions of its de­ci­sion.

The Duterte ad­min­is­tra­tion moved for the with­drawal from the in­ter­na­tional

body af­ter ICC pros­e­cu­tor Fa­tou Ben­souda ini­ti­ated a pre­lim­i­nary ex­am­i­na­tion of the al­leged crimes com­mit­ted in re­la­tion to the govern­ment’s deadly cam­paign against il­le­gal drugs.

De­spite the with­drawal, Letta said the Philip­pines will con­tinue to af­firm its com­mit­ment to fight im­punity for atroc­ity crimes, stress­ing that the coun­try has na­tional leg­is­la­tion pun­ish­ing such crimes.

“The Philip­pines is guided by the rule of law em­bod­ied in its Con­sti­tu­tion, which also en­shrines the coun­try’s long-stand­ing tra­di­tion and com­mit­ment to hu­man rights,” read the coun­try state­ment. “Its demo­cratic in­sti­tu­tions, in­clud­ing the ju­di­ciary, are fully func­tion­ing, and govern­ment agen­cies are work­ing to­gether to ad­dress the drug prob­lem, from com­mu­nity-level en­gage­ments to re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion, from law en­force­ment to in­ves­ti­ga­tion and pros­e­cu­tion,” it added. With­out cit­ing spe­cific cases, the Philip­pines said de­vel­op­ments in the coun­try demon­strate that jus­tice and the rule of law pre­vail.

Mala­cañang ear­lier claimed the re­cent con­vic­tion of the po­lice of­fi­cers tagged in the killing of 17-year old Kian Loyd de­los San­tos prove that the jus­tice sys­tem is func­tion­ing and that there is no need for the ICC to in­ter­vene.

Crit­ics, how­ever, said the con­vic­tion could bol­ster the case as it proves the ex­is­tence of ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings in the coun­try.

Com­mis­sion on Hu­man Rights (CHR) chair­man Chito Gas­con stressed the ICC will still have ju­ris­dic­tion over the al­leged crimes it is cur­rently ex­am­in­ing as these sup­pos­edly hap­pened be­fore the Philip­pines no­ti­fied the court of its with­drawal.

“The ICC will con­tinue to have ju­ris­dic­tion over events that oc­curred in our ter­ri­tory that may fall un­der the crimes within their ju­ris­dic­tion (i.e. crimes against hu­man­ity, etc.) be­tween 2011 and March 2019,” he said.

“This cov­ers the events while Pres­i­dent Duterte was mayor in Davao up to his elec­tion as Pres­i­dent and the present mo­ment. So per­pe­tra­tors with di­rect par­tic­i­pa­tion and lead­ers who en­abled these per­pe­tra­tors may still be even­tu­ally charged at the ICC,” Gas­con said.

The Philip­pines joined the ICC in Novem­ber 2011.

Since Duterte took of­fice in 2016, thou­sands of sus­pected drug of­fend­ers have been killed by state forces act­ing on or­ders of the Pres­i­dent’s war against drugs.

Ben­souda said ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings could be pros­e­cuted by the ICC if they are “com­mit­ted as part of a wide­spread or sys­tem­atic at­tack against a civil­ian pop­u­la­tion.”

The ICC, es­tab­lished un­der the 1998 Rome Statute, is a court of last re­sort. It only in­ter­venes if a coun­try is found to be un­will­ing or un­able to pros­e­cute crimes un­der its statute, in­clud­ing war crimes, crimes against hu­man­ity and geno­cide.

Pho­tos re­leased by the US em­bassy show one of the Balangiga bells be­ing re­moved from a memo­rial in Wy­oming last month be­fore be­ing placed in wooden crates and loaded into a FedEx truck for trans­port to the Philip­pines.

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