Duterte announces Philippines' 'immediate' withdrawal from ICC

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte

Founded in 2002, the court can prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes when national courts are unable or unwilling.

According to Villarin, the Senate passed a resolution past year which requires Senate concurrence if the country withdraws from a treaty.

"It is apparent that the ICC is being utilised as a political tool against the Philippines", he said.

Police say they have killed almost 4,000 drug suspects as part of the campaign, while rights groups claim the toll is around three times that number.

The ICC announced on February 9 a preliminary examination into allegations Philippine police have killed thousands of alleged users or dealers as part of Duterte's anti-drug war that he launched after taking office in mid-2016.

Duterte said Wednesday that the court can not have jurisdiction over him because the Philippine Senate's ratification in 2011 of the Rome Statute that established the court was never publicized as required by law.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announces the disbandment of police operations against illegal drugs at the Malacanang palace in Manila on January 30, 2017.

He made no mention of the withdrawal in a speech on Wednesday. The Philippines comes under the its jurisdiction because it is a member, and pulling out can not impact jurisdiction retroactively.

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Duterte, however, argued that there was "fraud" committed in the process of making the Philippines sign the agreement, thus Manila has the right to withdraw "effective immediately".

Last month, he indicated he would cooperate with the ICC examination and even said he would prefer a firing squad to prison. "Neither it is a crime of aggression or a crime against humanity", the president said in his statement.

But he soon changed his tune, telling security forces not to cooperate in any worldwide investigation, and that "not in a million years" would the ICC have jurisdiction. Sabio is the lawyer of self-confessed hitman Edgar Matobato, who said he killed people in Davao City upon the orders of then then-Mayor Duterte.

The ICC announced last month it was launching a study of the killings, which Philippine police put at 4,000 but rights groups say is actually triple that number.

Once the office of Guterres receives the letter, the Philippine government has to wait for a year before the withdrawal takes effect.

Harvard Law professor and former ICC investigation and prosecution coordinator Alex Whiting said that Duterte is "deliberately and knowingly misrepresenting the facts". He said the Rome Statute that established the tribunal for heinous leaders can not be enforced in the Philippines because it has not been made public as required by law after Filipino senators ratified it in 2011.

The prime minister says the president of the Philippines was receptive to concerns he raised about human rights.

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

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