Duterte cannot exonerate himself of crimes by withdrawing from the Rome Statute

March 15, 2018


MANILA — A global activist group said that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte cannot exonerate himself of crimes against the Filipino people by his decision to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC) just as the United States signed in 2000 but later did not ratify the treaty.

This was the view held by the Philippines Chapter of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS-Phils) after Duterte instructed Wednesday the filing of a formal notice of withdrawal as a State Party from the Rome Statute.

Duterte’s decision came a month after ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced that they will start a preliminary examination on the reported killing of thousands in Duterte’s war on drugs.

Duterte has been denounced by international human rights groups and United Nations representatives for grave rights violations, including the latest terror-listing of more than 600 individuals.

The ILPS-Phils bared that “the U.S. war on terror is being continued in the Philippines under Operation Pacific Eagle along with those in Iraq and Syria. This proceeds at an alarming pace with intensified militarization of peasant and indigenous communities, aerial strikes, killings, trumped-up charges, illegal arrests, torture, forced evacuations and other rights violations.”

Aside from civil and political rights, the group also assailed violations of economic, social and cultural rights and violations of sovereign rights.

“Withdrawal from the ICC does not exonerate him nor the U.S. of an extensive range of crimes against the entire Filipino people. This is one good reason for the people themselves to indict both governments for crimes against the people before international tribunals not only in the ICC,” the group said.

The Rome Statute creating the ICC was signed by the Philippines in 2002 and ratified in 2011. The ICC handles cases of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and crimes of aggression.

“Only those who are leading wars of aggression against peoples withdrew or did not enter the ICC such as the U.S., Russia, China and Israel. Even then, that did not stop the Palestinian people to charge Israel for war crimes before international courts such as people’s tribunals,” the ILPS-Phils noted.

The group cited two sessions of the Permanent People’s Tribunal (PPT) on the Philippines. One in 1980 against the Marcos dictatorship and another in 2007 against former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. An International Peoples’ Tribunal (IPT) also indicted Arroyo in 2005 and the US-Aquino regime in 2015.

An International People’s Tribunal last year also found US, the UK and Australia were directly involved with the Indonesian government’s mass killings in the 1965 anti-communist purge.