Press Release
March 18, 2019

Dispatch from Crame No. 489:
Sen. Leila M. de Lima on ICC's continued jurisdiction notwithstanding effectivity of withdrawal

Atty. Jude Sabio is absolutely correct. Rodrigo Roa Duterte is not yet off the hook.

Despite the effectivity of the withdrawal of the Philippines from the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on March 17, 2019, its obligation to cooperate with the ICC remains insofar as any proceeding commenced before the withdrawal is concerned. The effectivity of the withdrawal also does not prejudice the ICC's cognizance of the matter on the Philippine situation already under its consideration prior to withdrawal.

This is the clear provision of Art. 127.2 of the Rome Statute. This simply means that withdrawal is not an escape hatch for any public official of a State party who withdraws his country from the ICC, on the mistaken belief that this would shield him from prosecution under the Rome Statute.

Applied to Duterte and other administration officials and even civilian parties complicit in his EJK campaign, this means that the ICC continues to exercise jurisdiction over crimes against humanity they committed before March 17, 2019. This covers EJKs and murders carried out by PNP officials and vigilantes in the course of the Duterte administration's so-called war on drugs from June 30, 2016 to March 16, 2019.

Malacañang says that the Philippines was never bound to the Rome Statute because it was not published in the Official Gazette. It says that the ICC has never and can never acquire jurisdiction over the matter of EJKs perpetrated by the Duterte administration because the Philippines was never a state party to the Rome Statute of the ICC.

This is wishful thinking and warped reasoning. In the first place, only a country that admits to be a state party to the Rome Statute can withdraw under the procedure laid down in Art. 127 of said treaty. On March 17, 2018, the Philippines did withdraw as a state party using Art. 127 of the Rome Statute. If true to its conviction that the Philippines never became a state party to the Rome Statute, the Duterte administration should not have withdrawn, since there was nothing to withdraw. Yet, it did, thus recognizing the status of the Philippines as a state party to the Rome Statute since 2011.

Duterte has the illusion that by withdrawing the Philippines from the Rome Statute, he has already escaped ICC jurisdiction. He can keep that illusion. In the meantime, the ICC will continue its preliminary examination, regardless of Duterte's nervous protests and feigned confidence in his lawyers' legal opinion on the matter.

Habang patuloy ang pag-iilusyon ni Duterte na nakatakas na siya, patuloy din lang ang paggulong ng hustisya laban sa kanya.

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