MANILA, Philippines – Senator Leila De Lima on Saturday, March 17, said that the country's withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC) is the "beginning of the end" for President Rodrigo Duterte.
In handwritten notes sent to the media, De Lima refuted Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque's claim that the Philippines' withdrawal from the ICC is the "beginning of the end" for the court.
"No, Mr Roque, Duterte's withdrawal from the ICC is not the 'beginning of the end' for the ICC. It is the beginning of the end for Duterte," De Lima wrote.
"No right thinking nation or leader will follow the lead of your deranged President, except perhaps those who are also likely candidates for ICC investigation and prosecution," she said.
Roque claimed on Thursday, March 15, that "an avalanche of withdrawal" of other countries will happen following the Philippine government's decision to leave the court "immediately." (FULL TEXT: Duterte's statement on Int'l Criminal Court withdrawal)
Photo courtesy of De Lima's communications team
Burundi was the first nation to leave the ICC in October 2017. South Africa and Gambia had expressed intent to leave, but they reversed their decisions after.
"Mr Roque, i-google mo ang Burundi. Iyan ang pinagyayabang mong bansa na kahanay ngayon ng Pilipinas sa pagtiwalag sa ICC," De Lima said.
(Mr Roque, find Burundi on Google. That is the country you are boasting of sharing the same ranks as the Philippines due to the ICC withdrawal)
According to Human Rights Watch, Burundi government forces left a "devastating" track record of unchecked abuses – including rape, torture, and executions – that made the government "ripe for ICC scrutiny."
"Countries will be staying put in the ICC because they don't want to be identified with the Philippine government under Duterte, which is now the number one human rights violator in the world," said De Lima, who is currently detained at the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City, over drug charges. (READ: The year of deaths and denials)
According to the Rome Statute, however, a state party's withdrawal from the ICC can only take effect a year after the United Nations (UN) secretary-general receives the written notification of the withdrawal.
Ambassador Teodoro Locsin Jr, Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the UN, submitted the formal notice of withdrawal to the chef de cabinet of the UN Secretary-General on Friday, March 16.
Meanwhile, the ICC reminded Duterte that despite its withdrawal from the court, the Philippines’ obligations to cooperate in a proceeding which had already begun will not change.
The Office of the Prosecutor started "preliminary examinations" to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to establish that the complaint filed against Duterte in connection to his war on drugs falls under the jurisdiction of the ICC.
If the ICC prosecutor determines they have jurisdiction over the case, they will proceed to the actual investigation phase. – Rappler.com