Exit from ICC seen to hurt PH

MANILA – The Philippines’ resignation as member of the International Criminal Court (ICC) will cause serious harm to its reputation and standing in the world stage.

So say various legal experts, who pointed out that the exit gives the impression that the country is unable to meet its legal obligations to the community of nations.

The Philippines announced its intention to leave the ICC last year. Last week, that exit became final.

The Duterte administration took the big step of leaving the court which had begun to probe the killings of thousands of Filipinos as a result of the government’s anti-drug war. However, the court will continue its probe on the killings which took place when the Philippines was still an ICC member, according to prosecutor FatouBensouda.

The ICC’s “independent and impartial preliminary examination into the situation in the Philippines continues,” Bensouda said in a statement to media on Tuesday, March 19.

Among others, the spectre of the country losing millions of dollars in foreign aid because of its withdrawal from ICC was raised by Rep. Gary Alejano.

Furthermore, the possibility of an increase in human rights abuses in the Philippines could result in the exit, according to Gilbert Andres, counsel for the Philippine Coalition for International Criminal Court.

“One cannot invoke now the parallel means provided for in the ICC for an effective remedy against international crimes, “ he said.

Another congressman, Ariel Casilao, said the Duterte regime left the ICC because “it is guilty of murdering its own constituents, particularly the marginalized sectors.”

Senator RizaHontiveros said, “the country’s exit from the ICC is an act to defend not Philippine sovereignty but the climate of killing and impunity in the country.” She added that it was a step back from the country’s commitment to global treaty obligations on human rights and democracy.

For its part, Malacanang said that the country’s withdrawal from the court was not a big issue.

“The sky has not fallen and the sun still rises in the east,” presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said the day after the withdrawal took effect on Sunday, March 17.

Oddly enough, despite the highly publicized announcement of the Philippines’ exit from the international court, Panelo said that the country was never really a member of the ICC in the first place.

This is because the treaty that the government signed  in 2011 was never published in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation.

A UN-sanctioned body, the Philippines is only the second country to withdraw from the ICC, with the other being the African state of Burundi.