MANILA President Rodrigo R. Duterte has defended his decision to take back the Philippines' ratification of the Rome Statute, which created the International Criminal Court (ICC).
During the 2017 Philippine Military Academy (PMA) graduation rites in Baguio City, Duterte said the Rome Statute is not a law since it was not published in the Official Gazette when the Philippines ratified it in August 2011, during the time of former President Benigno Aquino III.
If it is not published, there is no law. So there is no reason to withdraw which is not existing, Duterte said.
Duterte said the purpose of his announcement to withdraw from ICC was simply because to announce to the world, and I will convince everybody now who are under the treaty of ICC get out, get out, they are discourteous.
Since the Rome Statute was not published in the Official Gazette, Duterte insisted the ICC will never have jurisdiction over him, not in a million years.
It is a document that was prepared by anybody, it's an EU (European Union)-sponsored, the President said.
Now our rule in this jurisdiction is you have to publish so that people will not become ignorant. Because if it is not published, you cannot tell me now that ignorance of the law excuses no one. It has to be published in the Official Gazette. That is the publication of the government, he said.
The President announced last week the country's withdrawal from the Rome Statute, weeks after ICC special prosecutor Fatou Bensouda started a preliminary examination on the alleged human rights violations amid the Duterte administration's intensified war on drugs.
The Philippines, in ratifying the Rome Statute was made to believe that the principle of complementary shall be observed, Duterte said in his statement last week.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque explained that the ICC can only exercise jurisdiction if domestic courts are unwilling or unable to do so.
For his part, Presidential Legal Counsel Chief Salvador Panelo said Duterte's decision was not a sign of cowardice or attempt to evade accountability but in defense of the grace and dignity of the very office, which he holds, and of the sovereignty of the Philippines.
In front of the PMA graduates, Duterte vowed to pursue his war on drugs, which killed over 4,000 drug suspects and not 7,000 as reported by the human rights groups to the United Nations and ICC.
If I renege now, if I'll withdraw, I would have compromised and placed this generation, our children, in jeopardy. I have to finish this, Duterte said.
He urged the military and police to just do their job in accordance with the law in protecting the Filipino nation.
Don't be afraid. Just do your duty in accordance with the law. I'll take care of you. They cannot touch me. They have no jurisdiction, he said.
Source: Philippine News Agency