Latest Duterte Spin to Get Away with Murder: Play the victim and withdraw ICC ratification

“Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s most recent decision to withdraw the State’s ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is indicative of his rabid refusal to be subjected to any and all forms of investigation or scrutiny. The Duterte regime is defensively peddling the narrative that all casualties in the drug war occurred during legitimate police operations. Despite this lie, this murderous regime is aware that there are relatives, witnesses, and individuals who can expose and demolish its half-baked stories. Thus, Duterte is choosing to cheat his way out of a mechanism that can potentially prove his culpability,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay.

The Rome Statute of the ICC is an international treaty that puts in place a mechanism tasked to address genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and crimes of aggression – serious crimes of international concern. Among the governments that withdrew their ratification of the Rome Statute were the United States and Israel – countries known for war crimes and gross human rights violations.

Palabay also slammed Duterte’s new game plan to play the victim. “He talks as if the allegations against him were concocted from thin air, without basis. He is now playing the victim, blaming a purported conspiracy against him. What he conveniently leaves out is the systematic and fascist campaign that he and his State forces have unleashed against the Filipino people, leaving thousands dead in the urban cities and rural areas. In sum, Duterte is his own destabilizer,” she said, citing Duterte’s war on drugs campaign and his counterinsurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan.

Karapatan, citing Article 127 of the Rome Statute, emphasized that the country’s withdrawal “shall not affect any cooperation with the [ICC] in connection with criminal investigations and proceedings in relation to which the withdrawing State had a duty to cooperate and which were commenced prior to the date of which the withdrawal became effective, nor shall it prejudice in any way the continued consideration of any matter which was already under consideration by the Court prior to the date on which the withdrawal became effective.”

“Unfortunately for Duterte, withdrawing from the ICC does not absolve him from anything, nor does it leave him off the hook. Moreover, withdrawal from international agreements is a constitutional matter, and should undergo proper legal processes,” added Palabay.

“Duterte is actually not being denied due process, as his government did with so many urban poor dwellers, farmers, and indigenous peoples killed under this regime's campaigns; yet he speaks as if he is the one who was victimized.  Today, the country has been made fully aware that the tyrant is a mere coward who plays tough with words but flinches when confronted with concrete platforms for accountability. This is a classic Duterte move to cheat his way out of culpability and responsibility for all the rights violations systematically committed by him and his State forces,” concluded Palabay.