By Consuelo Marquez, March 16 2019; Philippine Daily Inquirer

Image Credit to Panay News

MANILA, Philippines — “It is then impunity that wins as a consequence of withdrawal,” the Commission Human Rights (CHR) said in a statement issued Saturday, March 16, a day before the Philippines’ withdrawal from International Criminal Court (ICC) would take effect.

The CHR was alarmed at the statement of the Duterte administration that it would not cooperate if the ICC would launch an investigation of its bloody campaign against illegal drugs.

CHR said the withdrawal from the ICC would be “a reversal of the country’s commitment to international treaty obligations, particularly in ending impunity, and a step back from the gains the Philippines has achieved in promoting justice and human rights.”

CHR also urged the government to allow the ICC to probe and punish the suspects behind the alleged extrajudicial killings rising out of the drug war.

“The task before the Philippine government is to show — beyond words — that it is willing to investigate, prosecute, and punish perpetrators of alleged extrajudicial killings linked to the government’s anti-drug war,” CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said in a statement.

The government should also cooperate with ICC’s preliminary examination and reconsider its withdrawal from the Rome Statute, which created ICC.

“The best way to move forward is to cooperate in ICC’s preliminary examination and demonstrate its commitment in ending impunity, rather than blocking avenues in seeking justice — and perhaps reconsider its withdrawal from the Rome Statute as a stronger sign of its dedication to the rule of law and human rights,” De Guia said.

The climate of impunity in the Philippines might also worsen because of its withdrawal from the ICC, former Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said.

“This is what’s very frightening in the withdrawal of Duterte from the ICC. It’s probable that extrajudicial killings and harassment of critics of the administration and simple citizens would intensity,” Colmenares said in a statement in Filipino.

Colmenares added that more criminal complaints related to the administration’s campaign against drugs could still be included in those already filed by families of victims and would be submitted in “future supplemental pleadings next week.”

In February 2018, the ICC launched a “preliminary examination” on the accusation that President Rodrigo Duterte had committed crimes against humanity, following a review of communications and reports documenting the alleged crimes.

However, last March 2018, Duterte declared the country’s pullout from the Rome Statute. /atm