DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/ 07 December) – The International Criminal Court said it will proceed with an assessment of the communications into the crimes alleged against President Rodrigo Duterte to determine if these fall within its jurisdiction.
The statement, contained in an annual report on the ICC’s preliminary examination activities released Wednesday, came despite the Philippine government’s withdrawal from the Rome Statute which created the court.
ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda opened in February this year a preliminary examination into the situation in the Philippines related to allegations of extrajudicial killings in the conduct of the Duterte administration’s war on drugs.
Over 20,000 deaths have been recorded since Duterte launched his war on drugs immediately upon assuming the presidency.
The ICC said it has received a total of 52 communications on the situation in the Philippines, including those submitted by lawyer Jude Sabio backed by a supplemental communication by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano.
These communications accused Duterte and other senior government officials of encouraging the killings of suspected drug personalities.
Withdrawal from ICC
The ICC began the examination of allegations of crimes against humanity against Duterte in February this year.
In March, Duterte announced the country was withdrawing from the Rome Statute.
But the ICC in its examination report maintained that it “retains jurisdiction with respect to alleged crimes that have occurred on the territory of the Philippines during the period when it was a State Party to the Statute.”
ICC rules provide that withdrawal from the Rome Statute shall only take effect a year after the receipt of the written notification of withdrawal by the UN Secretary-General.
Petitions questioning the validity of the country’s withdrawal from the ICC without Senate concurrence have been filed at the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, The Palace on Thursday slammed the ICC’s decision as an “affront” to the Philippine judicial system and an “insult” to the country’s sovereignty.
In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said, “The International Criminal Court (ICC) has once again exhibited its impartiality when it publicly pronounced that it will continue to assess the alleged crimes against humanity committed in the country. We are not surprised.
Echoing Duterte’s position, Panelo said the Philippines never became a party to the Rome Statute “thus, we will treat this tribunal as nonexistent and its actions a futile exercise.”
The President had argued that the country did not become a party to the Rome Statute because the treaty was not published in the Official Gazette. (MindaNews)