PH won’t evade ICC probe: DFA

MANILA The Philippine government is not evading the International Criminal Court's (ICC) possible investigation into the country's campaign against illegal drugs.

Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said this Wednesday night, as he explained President Rodrigo R. Duterte's move to withdraw the country's ratification on a treaty that established the ICC.

"To prove that it's not a way of evading or getting away from consequences or the jurisdiction of ICC or yung nangyari na,even if magwithdraw tayo, covered pa rin yung actions natinwhen we are a member (even if we withdraw, our actions back when we're a member are still covered)," he said in a television interview.

"Doon sa mga nagsasabi na ayaw lang ni Presidente magingliable dito (Those who are saying that the President doesn't want to be held liable), he's not doing it for himself kasi we still have obligations during those time, it's really for the soldiers, for the police and to make a stand sa ating mundo na you know 'wag niyong i-pulitika ang (don't politicize) human rights," he added.

According to the official, the country's withdrawal from the ICC had already surfaced in many informal discussions.

"When the president took office and while I'm still at the Senate, that is being discussed already because human rights is seen to be politicized or weaponized," he said in mixed English.

Cayetano pointed out that as early as former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's term, the military had reservations on the ratification of the Rome Statute due to what he said an "internal conflict" back then.

"Noong panahon ni Pangulong Arroyo, hindi pumayag ang military na ipa-ratify natin 'yan kasi may internal conflict tayo, so ang mga pulis atmilitar natin baka ma-compromise," he said.

Manila ratified and endorsed the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the ICC, to the Senate in 2011 during the term of former President Benigno Aquino III.

ICC is an institution that has power to exercise jurisdiction over leaders or persons liable for crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression, and crime of genocide.

"Now, the President sees that there is internal conflict, 'yong nangyari sa Marawi etc., and that's the same reason the United States, China, Russia did not sign or did not ratify, the US signed but did not ratify," Cayetano said.

When asked how the decision will affect the country's standing in the international scene, considering it was named best country to invest in this 2018, Cayetano stressed the move holds as Manila's "principled stand."

"The political non-government organizations and politicians have taken over human rights, so ang problema hindi na katulad dati na prinsipyo talaga sa human rights, sa ngayon, ginagamit sa pulitika (now it is being politicized)," he said. "But this is a principled stand, ayaw nating maging ipokrito (we do not want to be hypocrite)."

Cayetano said from the year the country ratified the treaty even until it is withdrawn, acts done by the government while still a member of the ICC still fall under the latter's jurisdiction.

"Hindi ka lang liable'pag nag-withdraw ka na and forward pero yung before that, you're still liable," he said.

Meanwhile, he believes an investigation won't prosper as he pointed out that the country's judicial system functions.

"Under the Rome Statute, they can only take over kung hindi nagwo-work yung sistema mo sa bansa mo (once the country's justice system doesn't work)."

Source: Philippine News Agency

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