PH withdrawal from ICC may imply Duterte ‘afraid’ to be probed – Robredo

Mara Cepeda
PH withdrawal from ICC may imply Duterte ‘afraid’ to be probed – Robredo
What message does the Philippines want to say by withdrawing from the ICC, asks the Vice President – that we don't want to promise we would uphold human rights?

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo said the Philippines’ withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC) may imply President Rodrigo Duterte is “afraid” to be investigated for his bloody drug war.

Robredo was asked by reporters on Thursday, March 15, to react to the timing of the withdrawal.

It came roughly a month after the ICC began “preliminary examinations” to determine whether the complaint filed against Duterte falls under its jurisdiction. 


Implications of the withdrawal: The Vice President said the timing may imply Duterte moved to withdraw from the ICC because he is about to investigated. 

Iyon iyong mas nakakalungkot, actually. Parang iyong implikasyon, dahil iimbestigahan, aalis tayo…. Gusto bang sabihin, natatakot tayo sa imbestigasyon? Iyong epekto kasi nito hindi lang sa present na set-up, pero iyong implikasyon nito pati sa mga susunod,” Robredo said. 

(That’s what is saddening, actually. It seems the implication is that because we are about to be investigated, we are going to leave…. Does this mean we are afraid to be investigated? This affects not only the current set-up, but it has implications on the future.)

The Vice President said the withdrawal may hurt the Philippines’ reputation internationally as well.

She said that when the Philippines signed and ratified the Rome Statute in 2011, effectively putting the country under the jurisdiction of the ICC, it signalled to the world that the country was taking the lead in upholding human rights.

Implikasyon nito, unang-una, iyong international perception sa ating bansa apektado. Pangalawa, nagiging questionable na iyong commitment natin sa international agreements,” said Robredo. (The implication, first of all, is that the international perception of our country will be affected. Secondly, our commitments to international agreements will become questionable.)

Human rights take a hit: She added the withdrawal may also be considered a blow to the protection of human rights in the country. (READ: CHR: Withdrawal from Int’l Criminal Court can be seen as ‘encouraging impunity’)

Pangatlo, ano ba iyong gustong sabihin nito pagdating sa human rights? Ayaw na ba natin mangako na ia-uphold natin ito?” asked the Vice President. (Third, what does this want to say about human rights, that we don’t want to promise we would uphold it?)

She said she is ultimately “saddened” by the withdrawal, as the ICC serves as a “safety net” from abusive officials.  

So kapag umalis tayo dito, gusto bang sabihin inaalis na natin iyong safety net na iyon? Delikado ito sa future generations, kasi paano kung naging mapang-abuso iyong nakaupo? Wala na tayong malalapitan,” said Robredo. 

(So now that we are leaving, does this mean we are going to lose that safety net? This is dangerous for the future generations, because what happens when officials become abusive? We will no longer have anyone else to turn to.)

While Duterte insists the Philippines’ withdrawal from the ICC is effective “immediately,” the Rome Statute says a state party’s withdrawal can only take effect a year after the written notification of the withdrawal is received by the United Nations secretary-general. The withdrawal does not stop the investigations already initiated before the pullout. –

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.


Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at or tweet @maracepeda.