By Bryan Yeoh Quan Jin, International News Writer
On March 14, President Rodrigo Duterte announced that The Philippines is withdrawing from the International Criminal Court (ICC). President Duterte is dissatisfied with the investigation launched by the ICC into the anti-drug campaign waged by the Filipino government.
The Philippines published a 15-page statement, which accused the ICC and U.N. officials of waging a smear campaign against the anti-drug campaign and ignoring due process and presumption of innocence in its actions.
In a statement to Reuters, Duterte said, “There appears to be a concerted effort on the part of the U.N. special rapporteurs to paint me as a ruthless and heartless violator of human rights who allegedly caused thousands of extrajudicial killings,”
According to Human Rights Watch in their World Report 2018, the drug war in the Philippines has resulted in the killing of more than 12,000 drug suspects. However, the Philippine Information Agency published a more conservative figure of 4,021 drug suspects who were killed between July 1, 2016 and February 8, 2018.
Duterte’s decision is a significant shift from his stance a month ago when he welcomed the ICC inquiry into the drug war. As international pressure mounts from various human rights organizations, Duterte has repeatedly defended the legality of his drug war operations to the international media. At one point, he even stated that he would be willing to face incarceration in defending his policies and actions.
Local politicians have also not been quiet about their reactions to this “drug war” and Duterte’s decision. In an interview with the Guardian, Kabataan party representative Sarah Elago said it showed that “Duterte intends to impose his fascist and tyrannical tendencies even against international critics. Only the guilty become too eager to run away from prosecution. If indeed he wants to prove his innocence, what better platform than a court?” Senator Risa Hontiveros said to Reuters that Duterte was desperate and “may have unwittingly displayed his fear of being proven guilty”.
Although Duterte has announced his decision to withdraw the Philippines from the ICC, procedurally it takes effect a year after a withdrawal application is received. So far, only Burundi has successfully withdrawn from the Rome Statute.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, March 20th print edition.
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