Duterte threatens PH withdrawal from ICC

Pia Ranada
'The International Criminal [Court] is useless,' says the Philippine leader, who has been called out by the ICC for possible human rights violations in his anti-drugs campaign

DUTERTE'S THREATS. President Rodrigo Duterte leads the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board meeting at Malacañang Palace on November 14, 2016. File photo by Simeon Celi Jr/Presidential Photo

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte may just order the Philippines’ withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC), following the actions of his “idol” Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Wala, inutil ‘yang International Criminal [Court]. Nag-withdraw sila sa membership. (The International Criminal Court is useless. They [Russia] withdrew its membership). I might follow,” Duterte said on Thursday, November 17, before heading to Lima, Peru, to join 20 other leaders at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Summit.

On Wednesday, Putin signed an order formally withdrawing Russia’s signature from the founding statute of the ICC, claiming the court was “one-sided and inefficient” and that it has failed to live up to hopes of the international community. (READ: Russia withdraws signature from ICC founding statute)

The move comes after the ICC published a report classifying the Russian annexation of Crimea as an occupation.

Duterte also expressed dissatisfaction with the tribunal, claiming it has not helped small countries like the Philippines wracked with violence and injustices.

“Why? Tayo lang ang maliit na binugbog ng walanghiya. Nagpatayan, it’s by the thousands, bombing children, women (We small countries get beaten up by the fools. All the killings, it’s by the thousands, bombing children, women),” he said.

Duterte cited the example of Aleppo in Syria and Mosul in Iraq where human rights abuses continue to happen despite the ICC’s existence.

The ICC has previously called out the Duterte administration for possible human rights violations in its anti-illegal drugs campaign. An ICC judge said she was closely monitoring the “drug war.”

The ICC investigates genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity 

Other countries that had served notice of a pullout from the ICC are Gambia, South Africa, and Burundi. Gambian Information Minister Sheriff Bojang earlier charged that the ICC had been used “for the persecution of Africans and especially their leaders” while ignoring crimes committed by the West.

New China, Russia-led order?

In his Thursday speech, Duterte said he would be the first to support China and Russia if they decide to forge a new alliance of nations.

“If China and Russia will decide to create a new order, I will be the first to join,” said Duterte.

The Philippine President has threatened in the past to withdraw the Philippines from the United Nations, an organization he said is “dominated by the US” and had “done nothing” for the Philippines.  He later clarified that it was only a “joke.”

On Thursday, however, he again expressed disappointment with the UN.

“UN, walang ginawa (did nothing). Series of wars, Vietnam, Taliban, the killings [are] endless,” he said.

“Just because it is America, it does not mean that it is good,” Duterte added.

Duterte is expected to meet world leaders like Putin, US President Barack Obama, and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the APEC Leaders’ Summit in Peru. (READ: 5 things to expect from Duterte at APEC 2016 in Peru)

He is seeking a bilateral meeting with Putin, whom he has described as his “hero” and “idol.” – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.