Philippines Sends Official Notice on Quitting ICC

Karl Romano and Felipe Villamor
180316-PH-icc-620.jpg Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano sits with other delegates at an ASEAN Foreign Ministers Retreat in Singapore, Feb. 6, 2018.
AP Photo

The Philippines notified the United Nations officially on Friday it was pulling out of a treaty that created the International Criminal Court, saying Manila was challenging critics who used human rights issues to undermine the government.

Teodoro Locsin Jr., the Philippine envoy to the United Nations, sent the notice to Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, the chief aide to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

“Our decision to pull out of the court is a principled stand against those who politicize and weaponize human rights,” Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said in a statement from Sydney where he was attending a summit between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Australia.

Despite the withdrawal, Cayetano said the Philippines remained committed to its long-standing tradition of upholding human rights.

“The government affirms its commitment to fight against impunity for atrocity crimes, notwithstanding its withdrawal from the Rome Statute, especially since the Philippines has a national legislation punishing atrocity crimes,” the one-page note stated.

Cayetano alleged that a disinformation campaign sought to discredit the government of President Rodrigo Duterte, who has openly threatened to shoot criminals and turn Manila Bay red with the blood of slain drug addicts and pushers.

Since Duterte took office in 2016, more than 12,000 people have died in his war on narcotics, including three teenagers mistakenly killed in alleged drug shootouts last year, according to rights groups. The teens’ deaths led to widespread street protests that forced him to temporarily halt police anti-drug operations.

In December 2017, Duterte reinstated police in a frontline role in combating illegal drugs. Since then, 118 suspects have been killed in such operations, the national police said Friday. The department did not give specific breakdowns of those incidents, but BenarNews staff tallied 4,043 deaths claimed by the government as of February. Rights groups have blamed the thousands of other deaths on vigilantes linked to the government.

This week, Duterte condemned the ICC, accusing it of trying to paint him as a ruthless and heartless rights violator. He declared the Philippines was withdrawing from the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the court.

In February, Duterte boasted that he was not bothered by the complaint filed against him at the ICC. He challenged it to indict him on charges that he had orchestrated mass murder and eliminated political enemies when he served as mayor of the southern city of Davao.

In a statement on Friday, the European Union said it was deeply concerned by the latest turn of events in the Philippines.

“It is imperative to conduct prompt, effective, impartial and transparent investigations of all cases of death leading to the prosecution in all cases of unlawful killing,” the EU said.


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