By Genalyn D. Kabiling and Roy C. Mabasa
The Philippines has formally informed the United Nations of its withdrawal from the International Criminal Court.
The government officially served notice through a one-page note verbale on Thursday, 6:07 p.m., New York City time (Friday, 6:07 a.m. in Manila).
The note verbal was handed over to Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, the Chef de Cabinet of UN Secretary General Antonio Gutteres, by Philippine Permanent Representative to the UN Teodoro Locsin Jr.
The Philippines assured the international community in the note that it continues to be guided by the rule of law embodied in the Constitution and its long-standing tradition of upholding human rights.
“The government affirms its commitment to fight against impunity for atrocity crimes, notwithstanding its withdrawal from the Rome Statute, especially since the Philippines has a national legislation punishing atrocity crimes,” it said.
“The government remains resolute in effecting its principal responsibility to ensure the long-term safety of the nation in order to promote inclusive national development and secure a decent and dignified life for all,” it added.
The government has ruled out any possibility of reconsidering its withdrawal from the Rome Statute that created the Hague-based tribunal.
“Naku, too late. Too late po, parang naka-alis na po ang tren,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said.
Roque said it was “unacceptable” that the ICC has violated the “principle of complementarity” by initiating a preliminary examination into the alleged crimes committed in the government’s drug war.
He said the principle of complementarity states that the ICC would only exercise jurisdiction if the State party of the accused is unable or unwilling to prosecute the crime.
“Insulto po iyang ginawa ni prosecutor na kinondena niya ang ating hukuman na para bagang inutil dahil gagana lang naman ang ICC kung ang lokal na mga procedure at mga hukuman ay inutil doon sa mukha ng impunity,” he said, referring to ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda who recently announced the inquiry into the drug war.
Roque insisted that the ICC was not the court of first instance but the court of last resort.