News Release

Palace confirms PH withdrawal from ICC over prosecutor’s violation of complementarity rule

Malacañang on Thursday, March 15, stressed that the President’s decision to withdraw from the Rome Statute was a result of the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s violation of the principle of complementarity.

The principle states that the ICC could only prosecute crimes when the State Parties’ local courts are unable or unwilling to do so, which Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Jr. said is not the case in the Philippines.

Secretary Roque in a Palace press briefing explained that the ICC violated the complementarity rule, which served as the basis by which the Philippines consented to become a member of the international court, when it began its preliminary examination into complaints filed against the President in relation to his administration’s war on drugs. This, despite the local courts’ willingness to take on the cases, Roque stressed.

“Ang ICC po, hindi po ‘yan ang court of first instance, ‘yan po ay binuo ng mga kasapi ng ICC kasama ang Pilipinas para maging court of last resort. Gagalaw lang po dapat ang ICC kapag ang mga lokal na hukuman ay hindi gumagana,” Roque noted.

“I hasten to add that in the Philippines, not only do we have a functioning judiciary, and I think no one can dispute that. We also have a domestic statute, which mirrors the crimes cognizable by the International Criminal Court,” he added.

The Palace spokesperson confirmed that the Executive Secretary already received an instruction from the President for the country to withdraw from the ICC.

Roque added that the Executive Secretary was instructed to give written notice to the United Nations Secretary-General regarding the country’s withdrawal as a State Party to the Rome Statute creating the ICC.

“The Executive Secretary will implement immediately the President’s directive through proper diplomatic procedure in coordination with the Department of Foreign Affairs,” Roque said.

The Palace Spokesperson said the Philippines’ withdrawal is considered a big loss to the ICC saying that this new development would discourage other Asian countries to join.

“Wala na pong ibang bansa na talagang aktibo sa pag-iimbita, pag-eengganyo sa ibang mga bansa sa Asya na maging kasapi ng ICC… this is a development that the prosecutor should have considered when she decided to embark on preliminary examination,” Roque said.

“So to the ICC, to the Assembly of State Parties, they only have to thank the prosecutor for the end of our dream to achieve universal ratification for the ICC,” he added, stressing that the move could lead to an avalanche of countries wanting to get out from the international court.

Roque also described the prosecutor’s decision to conduct a preliminary examination as a “wrong political move.”

“You just give countries confirmation on why they should not become a member of the ICC. Because you have shown that you can exercise your power without accountability… You are to blame if ICC becomes part of the dustbin of history,” he said referring to the ICC prosecutor.

Palace: Pres. Duterte not happy with dismissal of case vs. Lim, Espinosa, et al

During the same press briefing, Malacañang reiterated the President’s firm commitment to go after the big fish in the administration’s war against drugs.

Secretary Roque disclosed that the President is not happy with the decision to dismiss the cases filed against alleged drug personalities Peter Lim, Rolando “Kerwin” Espinosa Jr., and others.

“I think what the President said is a very clear expression of concern that he will not allow suspected drug lords to go scot-free,” Roque said.

The Palace spokesperson was referring to President Duterte’s recent statement that he would make Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II take the places of Lim and Espinosa if the two would be released. ### PCO-Content