Philippines warns other countries will follow after ICC exit

Font Size

Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda sits in the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague on September 27, 2016 during Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi's sentencing for destroying Timbuktu's shrines. — AFP

The International Criminal Court (ICC) may sink into oblivion, and prosecutor Fatou Bom Bensouda is to blame, said Presidential Spokesperson Herminio Harry L. Roque, Jr.

“It’s a wrong political move, madam prosecutor. You are to blame if the ICC becomes part of history,” Mr. Roque told reporters in a press briefing at the Palace on Thursday, March 15.

The spokesman argued that the ICC prosecutor should not have acted on the complaint filed by “politician” Senator Antonio “Sonny” F. Trillanes IV alleging that the President has committed “crimes against humanity” in his war on drugs.

Mr. Roque said only domestic courts have the jurisdiction to investigate the President.

He noted as well that the complementarity principle on which the International Criminal Court (ICC) is based “was not applied.”

The spokesman likewise alleged that the ICC is being “politicized” and “influenced” by some lobby groups, which he described as “a concerted effort” to destabilize the Duterte administration.

He warned that the country’s withdrawal “will start an avalanche of other countries wanting to withdraw” their membership from the ICC.

Mr. Roque likewise said that no other ASEAN countries will be interested to join the ICC now. “It is only the Philippines that has taken on the role of basically advocating that other countries in the region should become a member of the ICC. This is the beginning of the end of the court…”

He explained that no country will “tolerate an unaccountable prosecutor” given her preliminary examination into the complaint filed against the President, which again he described as a violation of the principle of the complementarity.

In South East Asia, Mr. Roque said, only Cambodia and Timor Leste remain to be active members of the ICC.

“You talk about acquiring jurisdiction over the person of the President, even assuming there is a case, who’s going to apprehend him, considering that countries and the ICC only rely on the cooperation from the part of the state parties. You think Cambodia, Timor Leste will arrest the President?” he added. — Arjay L. Balinbin