Opposition Senators: Exit from ICC part of Duterte’s escape plan

Published March 17, 2019, 12:55 PM

by Patrick Garcia

By Hannah Torregoza

Opposition senators on Sunday slammed the Philippines’ withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC) as nothing but President Rodrigo Duterte’s “desperate exit plan” to escape international public accountability for the possible crimes he committed in connection with his brutal war on drugs.

Senator Leila de Lima (REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco / MANILA BULLETIN)
Senator Leila de Lima

Detained Senator Leila de Lima said such move only shows Duterte’s penchant for “hiding under the skirt of his men” instead of facing justice before permanent war crime tribunal.

“Instead of facing the music, Duterte is running scared. Behind the delusional bravado of a tyrant is a man who hides behind the legal acrobatics of his men,” de Lima said in her latest statement from the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial center where she is currently detained while facing drug charges.

“He may not (yet) be fleeing physically, but he is surely fleeing by abusing his powers as President and usurping the powers of two other branches of government,” she added.

A known human rights defender, de Lima said the government’s effort in disputing the ICC’s jurisdiction over the Philippines to investigate the killings under government’s drug war is solid proof that the President is a guilty man who is fleeing from justice.

“Mr. President, ikaw na ngayon ang nanlalaban sa harap ng mga awtoridad ng hustisya. Gusto mo lamang isahan ang taumbayan at ang mundo. Gagamitin mo pa ang kapangyarihan ng opisina mo para manlaban sa katotohanan at hustisya (you are now the one fighting authorities. You just want to fool the people and the world. You are just using the position to fight against truth and justice),” de Lima said.

“Gagawa-gawa ka ng kasalanan, tapos ngayong panahon na para managot ay tatakbo ka lang pala? Mahiya ka naman at ang mga tauhan mo, (You have the gall to commit crimes, and yet now that its payback time, all you would do is run? Shame on you and your cohorts),” she added.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros also called the Philippines’ withdrawal from the ICC, not an act to defend Philippine sovereignty, but the climate of killing and impunity in the country.

“It is President Rodrigo Duterte’s desperate exit plan to escape international public accountability for the crimes of which he is accused. Hindi ito pagtataguyod ng ating soberanya. Ito ay pagtatanggol sa isang tiranya (This does not establish our sovereignty. It defends his tyranny),” Hontiveros said also in a statement.

But while it is a step back from the Philippines’ commitment to international treaty obligations on human rights and democracy, Hontiveros said the ICC exit has no effect whatsoever on the ICC’s examination of the criminal complaint filed against President Duterte.

“He can still be held liable for offenses committed while the Philippines was a signatory to the ICC. It will not discharge our country of its obligations while it was still a party to the said agreement,” Hontiveros explained.

“It will also not disable our country’s cooperation with the ICC conducting criminal investigations which were initiated before the said withdrawal,” she stressed.

“I’m sorry, Mr President, but you cannot evade calls for justice and accountability with a simple goodbye to the ICC,” added the senator.

If President Duterte is half the “fearless leader” he tries to portray himself to be, Hontiveros said “he should subject himself to the ICC’s processes and face the complaint filed against him.” [Hannah L. Torregoza]