Philippines withdraw from ICC after 'outrageous attacks'

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Duterte removes Philippines from International Criminal Court

The Center for International Law (Centerlaw) on Thursday said President Duterte's decision to withdraw from the International Criminal Court gives the false impression that agents of the state can continue perpetuating a culture of impunity and even evade international accountability for crimes against humanity.

Harry Roque, a spokesperson for President Duterte, said in response that the ICC lacked jurisdiction over the case, calling the ICC a "court of last resort".

The ICC has urged the Philippines to reconsider its decision, since it is one of the few Asian countries that have ratified the Rome Statute, while human rights organisations said a withdrawal from the ICC does not exonerate Duterte from his alleged crimes.

The statute established the tribunal.

The president's declaration to withdraw from the ICC was met with a barrage of both praises and criticisms.

ICC prosecutors could not immediately be reached for comment.

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Cayetano pointed to the well-orchestrated campaign to mislead the global community and "crucify" Duterte and the Philippines by distorting the human-rights situation in the country.

Senator Antonio Trillanes said Duterte was withdrawing "because he knows that there is no way out for him in the ICC".

"There appears to be a concerted effort on the part of the United Nations special rapporteurs to paint me as a ruthless and heartless violator of human rights who allegedly caused thousands of extrajudicial killings", Duterte said.

On the ICC's call for the Philippines not to leave the court, Roque said in an interview on GMA7's morning show, "Too late po, parang naka-alis na po ang tren [sa istasyon] (It's too late, the train has already left [the station])".

In recent months, the Philippine government has lashed out against United Nations rapporteurs on human rights, issuing threats against officials such as Agnes Callamard, who is investigating extra-judicial killings in the Philippines.

Police deny allegations of murder and cover-ups and say they killed about 4,100 drug dealers in shootouts, but have nothing to do with an estimated 2,300 largely unsolved drug-related homicides.

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Based on the principle of complementarily, enshrined in the Rome Statute, the ICC can exercise jurisdiction only when local courts and institutions are deemed unable or unwilling to hold perpetrators of mass atrocities accountable.

Sarah Elago, a Kabataan party representative, said, "Duterte intends to impose his fascist and tyrannical tendencies even against worldwide critics".

The most recent mess that the Philippine President got into was when he branded his "favorite" UN Rapporteur as "undernourished" because she looks thin, and accused a Filipina UN human rights officer as communist and terrorist.

Ucanews.com reported Bishop Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon said the president might be "simply afraid" of a possible conviction for his "crimes against humanity".

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

"Being a signatory in the ICC, that's our safety net when our officials just neglect cases of abuse in the country, we have a venue where we can go to", the Vice-President said. China has called on the global community to respect the Philippines' sovereignty on the issue.

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