PH QUITS INT’L CRIME COURT: DRUG WAR INTENSIFIES
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines is now all set to officially quit the International Criminal Court (ICC). In spite that the country distance itself to future and further scrutiny of the high death toll rate of the war on drugs declared by President Rodrigo Duterte, the tribunal has pledged to pursue its examination of any possible crimes.
Manila's withdrawal becomes final after the year it told the United Nations (UN) that it was quitting the world's only permanent war crimes tribunal. Philippines, under Duterte’s lead, has been the second nation to do so.
"The Secretary-General...informed all concerned states that the withdrawal will take effect for the Philippines on March 17," UN spokesperson Eri Kaneko told Agence France-Presse.
The departure of the Philippines follows the court being hit in recent years by high-profile acquittals and moves by several nations to drop out.
Manila moved to quit after the body launched a preliminary examination in 2018 of President Rodrigo Duterte's drug crackdown that has killed thousands and drawn international criticism.
Duterte's drug war has been his signature policy initiative. He consistently defended it, especially from the Western critics like foreign leaders and institutions which he says they don't really care about his country. On the other hand, many leaders were in support of Duterte.
Court officials have said that the preliminary probe was already launched by ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda in February 2018 checking to the possible crimes against humanity as the drug war continues.
Under the ICC's rules, any matter under consideration before a nation leaves the court is still under its jurisdiction.
However, Duterte has made it clear his government will not cooperate with the ICC in any way.
"The court "can never acquire jurisdiction over my person. Not in a million years," he said.
The alleged illegal killing, as part of Duterte’s drug hunt launched in 2016, was the driving objective of the examination—which remains close to be developed as a full probe.
Police reports say 5,176 users or pushers who resisted arrest have been killed, but human rights groups denounce the one sided-statistics because the actual number of dead is at least triple that number.
Critics have alleged the crackdown refracted into a war on the poor that instead, had developed impunity and lawlessness in the nation of 106 million.
The Philippines' move to exit follows a string of setbacks for the ICC, including the January acquittal of former Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo and the June 2018 not guilty verdict for former DR Congo vice-president Jean-Pierre Bemba.
Burundi in 2017 became the first-ever nation to leave the court, which was founded in 2002.
In a wave of unprecedented defections, other African nations — Zambia, South Africa, Kenya and Gambia — have also made the move to quit or expressed interest in withdrawing as they accused the court of being biased against Africans.
However, earlier in March, the court got a boost when Malaysia officially joined, making it one of its Asian members.
As of the recent, the administration is under fire for the move, which many says, only gives more freedom for Duterte to intensify his war on drugs.
With reports from Rappler