Jul 21, 2021 @ 15:00

Mali si Duterte! PH obliged to cooperate with ICC processes begun up to March 17, 2019

Contrary to the assertion of President Rodrigo Duterte that the International Criminal Court (ICC) cannot put him on trial for crimes against humanity he allegedly committed when waging his controversial war on drugs, the Supreme Court (SC) has declared that the Philippines was still under its jurisdiction and was obliged to cooperate with processes initiated before its withdrawal from the Rome Statute took effect on March 17, 2019.

Although the SC ultimately dismissed as moot the petitions challenging Duterte’s unilateral withdrawal from the treaty after the launch of a preliminary examination by Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, it clarified various matters and misconceptions in a 101-page unanimous en banc decision on G.R. No. 238875.

Strikingly, the SC said “withdrawing from the Rome Statute does not discharge a state party from the obligations it has incurred as a member,” citing Article 127(2) of the treaty which entered into force upon the Philippines on November 1, 2011.

“Even if it has deposited the instrument of withdrawal, it shall not be discharged from any criminal proceedings. Whatever process was already initiated before the International Criminal Court obliges the state party to cooperate,” read the decision penned by Associate Justice Marvic Leonen.

This meant that “liability for the alleged summary killings and other atrocities committed in the course of the war of drugs is not nullified or negated here.”

Duterte erroneously claimed that the Philippines never became a party to the Rome Statute because the treaty was not published in the Official Gazette.

Bensouda on February 8, 2018 began a preliminary examination, prompting the Philippines to submit on March 16, 2018 to submit a formal notice of withdrawal that took effect one year later.

On May 24, 2021, Bensouda requested the ICC to judicially authorize a full-blown investigation into allegations of crimes against humanity committed by Duterte when he was vice-mayor and then mayor of Davao City, and when he was president, up to March 17, 2019.

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