Lucky Landono | The Avro Post

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte said he would withdraw the Philippines from the International Criminal Court (ICC) after the ICC began investigating Philippines war on drugs.

“It is apparent that the ICC is being utilized as a political tool against the Philippines,” President Duterte said.

The ICC in February began its probe into alleged crimes committed during the controversial anti-drugs crackdown in the Philippines.

Fatou Bensouda, a chief prosecutor of ICC, said the court would be going into reports of extrajudicial killings.

The Philippines president threatened to leave the ICC immediately, but the court explained the process takes a year after an official notice of withdrawal.

The Duterte administration argued that the ICC inquiry was in violation of due process.

The controversial president also condemned a baseless, unprecedented and outrageous attack on him and his administration by the United Nations.

“The acts allegedly committed by me are neither genocide nor war crimes. The deaths occurring in the process of legitimate police operations lacked the intent to kill,” the president emphasized.

The international community has been very critical about the ongoing war on drugs in the Philippines, which has caused the deaths of thousands.

Philippines police claim they have killed around 4,000 drugs suspects, while rights groups report the figure could be far higher.

The ICC chief prosecutor said she was deeply concerned about reports of extrajudicial killings in October 2016, four months after President Duterte assumed office on a pledge to crack down on drug dealers.

And in February 2018, the UN Human Rights Council disputed the Philippines’ human rights record and requested the country to accept a UN special rapporteur.

Harry Roque, a spokesperson for President Duterte, said in response that the ICC lacked jurisdiction over the case, calling the ICC a court of last resort.

In theory, withdrawal from the ICC would not stop the court to go into the probe of alleged crimes committed while the Philippines was a member, but it could prove difficult to make local authorities co-operate.

The Philippine Senate had filed a resolution saying the country’s withdrawal from international treaties would only be valid with its consent.

The country’s constitution states that adoption of an international treaty cannot be revoked without the support of both president and Senate.

More details to follow. Image of Rodrigo Duterte from The Independent.

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