PH to withdraw from International Criminal Court if pushed: Foreign Secretary

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — President Rodrigo Duterte may follow through on his threat to pull the Philippines out of the International Criminal Court (ICC), if the court persists in its criticism of the country's war on drugs, the Foreign Affairs secretary said Tuesday.

"If they will continue, then the only option will be for us to withdraw because the basis upon which we signed and became members of the (ICC) is no longer being pursued," Secretary Perfecto Yasay, Jr. told CNN Philippines' "The Source."

Yasay was referring to ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda's warning that the court may investigate alleged extrajudicial killings in the Philippines over the war on drugs.

Bensouda said that "any person who incites or engages in acts of mass violence" may be "potentially liable" in court.

Related: Int'l Criminal Court chief prosecutor warns PH over drug killings

However, Yasay said that the Philippines' agreement to the Rome Statute, which established the ICC, was premised on its "complementary" nature to existing national laws.

The court's mandate in pursuing cases only focuses on crimes against race and religion, and does not cover a war on drugs, he added.

Yasay also said he was "personally disappointed" at ICC officials' statements on the issue.

The ICC, which deals with genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, may exercise its ruling if a country's courts are unable to do so. But the Philippines has a sound justice system.

"Where there are deficiencies or shortcomings on our own system, then we can resort to the complementary aspect of the Rome Statute," Yasay said.

"But our criminal justice system is working very effectively, very vigilantly under the circumstances," he added.

 

The ICC clarified last week that "no preliminary examination... has been opened" and "no investigation [is] ongoing" with regard to the Philippines.

"If the ICC prosecutor (Bensouda) wants to investigate on her own initiative, she must obtain the authorization of the judges, so there is a control of a chamber of three judges over this matter," ICC spokesperson Fadi El Abdallah said in a briefing to reporters in The Hague on Friday.

President Duterte on Monday launched a fresh tirade, calling the ICC on their "bullsh*t" and "hypocrisy" over their threats to sue him.

"Ang Amerika mismo (na) ang nagtatakot sa akin na ipakulong sa (ICC) is not a signatory of that body," he said. "Why? Because at that time they were afraid [George W.] Bush will get it."

[Translation: America itself, which threatens to jail me through ICC, is not a signatory of that body.]

Duterte also announced that he might follow Russian President Vladimir Putin out of the ICC earlier this month.

Related: I might follow Putin's ICC withdrawal — Duterte says

Russia quit the court earlier this month for "(failing) to meet the expectations to become a truly independent, authoritative international tribunal."

Yasay added that other countries such as Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia, also expressed doubts with the court.

"I hope that ICC officials make sure know what they are talking about and they should not come up with these kinds of statements that will... defeat the very purpose of ICC," he added.