Yasay backs Duterte’s threat to leave ICC

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LIMA, Peru: Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. has backed President Rodrigo Duterte’s threat of withdrawing the Philippines’ membership in the International Criminal Court (ICC), claiming the tribunal was trying to interfere with the country’s internal affairs.

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Speaking to reporters at the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) ministerial meetings, Yasay said the President’s understanding was that the ICC’s role was only “supplementary” to a country’s criminal justice system.

“It cannot supervene or be higher than our national criminal justice system. It should simply be supportive and supplemental. But the way I, as a lawyer, see it, the way our President as a lawyer sees, it seems to indicate that the ICC would like to go beyond what is authorized under its charter,” Yasay said in a news conference on Friday.

“The ICC is trying to interfere in our internal affairs … [Withdrawing would make sense] if it continues to [interfere]despite our assurances we’ve given that we’re not violating human rights, or that we’re not involved as a country or as a state in extrajudicial killings,” he added.

Yasay cited a statement issued in October by ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, who said her office was watching for signs of officials “ordering, requesting, encouraging or contributing” to crimes against humanity in the Philippines.

He said Duterte had explained that extrajudicial killings “have not been done by the police agencies involved in this war against illegal drugs but more by the criminal elements themselves.”

Yasay, however, said Bensouda’s statement might not be representative of the ICC as a whole.

“I’ve spoken to the president of ICC myself during the [UN] General Assembly meetings and I was surprised that now there are certain elements there that would seem to run counter to what president has said. [I was told] it’s not something they are interested to pursue,” he said.

Amid the warning from Bensouda that the ICC “has jurisdiction over genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity committed on the territory or by nationals of the Philippines,” Yasay maintained that cases could not be filed against Duterte before the ICC.

“You know for instance that under the Constitution you cannot prosecute the President when he is sitting in office. An agency outside our criminal justice system can do that? That will be not be treating the country as a sovereign people. That will be treating us with great disrespect,” he said.

“That to my mind is what the President understood and meant when he said that if the ICC continues to carry out what it thinks is its responsibility, then we’re better off breaking away,” Yasay added.

In a speech before his departure for Peru to attend the APEC summit, Duterte said he might follow the move of Russia to withdraw from the ICC.

Duterte described the ICC as “useless” and expressed frustration about the West’s allegations of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines and its failure to understand his crackdown on illegal drugs.

“They are useless, those in the International Criminal [court]. They [Russia] withdrew. I might follow. Why? Only the small ones like us are battered,” Duterte said on Thursday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an executive order removing Russia as a founding member of the ICC on Wednesday.

Duterte is seeking a meeting with Putin in Lima this weekend, which comes as he pursues an independent foreign policy aimed at weaning the Philippines from its long-time ally the United States. He has frequently praised Russia and China.

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11 Comments

  1. President Duterte ‘s excuses in giving his PNP to freely execute to kill Drug Addicts and small time pushers as War on Drugs is very hollow. There are 3000 plus executed by his PNP all are poor little Filipinos who cannot defend themselves,. None of this are Big Drug Lords who are name but still walking and still dealing million dollars transaction right on his nose and living a very wealthy life… Are we Filipinos did not learn a lesson from 20years of Dictatorial form of government under Marcos in Which this president is clinging to. Bomgbong is his very close friend
    it is the second coming.

  2. If Duterte really believes that what he is doing with his war on drugs is legal then he has nothing to be afraid about ICC. Withdrawing from it will be dangerous for the Filipino people who at the moment has no one that they can trust specially the police are in cahoots with the government with the help of the Supreme Court.

  3. Yes, the ICC is just an apparatus of the rich and powerful countries who want to impose their hegemony to the weaker ones. We have a great and genius President here. We must support him.

    • You have a dangerous president. one day when he turn Dictator you will earn what u believe and no international help can or will support you. Giving the PNP the right to execute without legal proceeding is a dictatorial power.

  4. To DU30 and Yasay, he better think twice if our country have to align with Russia and China. Look at the countries that are aligned with them. Like Ukraine, Poland, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, etc. They are the poorest in EU!! For those align with China such as Myammar, Laos, Cambodia,etc. These countries are poorest in ASEAN. Vietnam who changed or disengaged with China are now benefitting from being friendly to EU, US and ASEAN. Please think think think. Don’t consult the leftist. Consult us OFWs, the masses and business sectors

  5. I agree in Mr. Yasay’s point of view. The ICC threatened Israel similarly on a number of times in the past, but on a broader scale when Israeli government crackdown on Pelestinian Territory every time a rocket is launched to hit Israel. The ICC refused to understand that to stop Israeli raid, Palestinian rocket attacks has to stop.

    • ICC and international court are created under the guidance of United Nation to safeguard and as a watchdog for Abusive Government Leaders, Like Hitler during his time, Anastacio Somoza of Nicaragua, Fidel Castro of Cuba, Marcos of the Philippines and other Dictators.

  6. It is obvious that leaders want to get out of ICC is because they have something to hide. The purpose of ICC is to hold those responsible accountable for their crimes and to help prevent these crimes from happening again.

    ​​The Court cannot reach these goals alone. As a court of last resort, it seeks to complement, not replace, national Courts. Governed by an international treaty called the Rome Statute, the ICC is the world’s first permanent international criminal court.

  7. Any leader who doesn’t want to do anything with ICC, must have something to hide. If these leaders get away with this, their people have no protection from their atrocities and criminal intent.