CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 17 November 2018

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Duterte tries to duck from International Criminal Court

MANILA (Agencies): Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Manila, said that the commitment of the Philippines to human rights in the international community cannot just be set aside by the president alone, CBCPNews reported on March 15.
 
Commenting on the move by the Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte, to withdraw the country from the International Criminal Court (ICC), the bishop said, “This shows that there is basis for the investigation on him. They are afraid of accountabilities. Duterte should be investigated.”
 
Duterte, who is under scrutiny by the ICC over his deadly war on drugs, claimed that there is a concerted effort to undermine his administration.
 
He also accused United Nations special rapporteurs and ICC investigators of painting him as a “ruthless and heartless violator of human rights who allegedly caused thousands of extrajudicial killings,” according to a UCAN report.
 
Duterte complained about what he claimed were “baseless, unprecedented and outrageous attacks on my person and against my administration, engineered by officials of the United Nations.”
 
He claimed that the Rome Statute, which established the ICC and of which the Philippines is a signatory, is not “effective nor enforceable” because it was not published in the Official Gazette, UCAN reported.
 
Bishop Pabillo, head of the Episcopal Commission on the Laity, called the move to withdraw from the ICC an attempt to evade liability.
 
“The Philippines is not Duterte,” the bishop pointed out.
 
CBCPNews reported Bishop Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon, as saying that Duterte’s action is a sign that he’s afraid of a “possible conviction.”
 
The bishop said, “His withdrawal from the Rome Statute of the ICC is an act of cowardice, which makes his name more infamous.”
 
The treaty sets out four core international crimes: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression.
 
Under the statute, the ICC can only investigate and prosecute the crimes in situations where states are unable or unwilling to do so themselves.
 
UCAN reported Franciscan Father Pete Montallana as saying, only the truth can set Duterte free. “Let him be courageous enough to face investigation to prove that he has nothing to hide,” he said.
 
Benedictine Sister Mary John Mananzan, who helped organise the Movement Against Tyranny opposition group, said Duterte’s withdrawal from the ICC was “cowardly.”
 
However, Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga, said the Philippines is sovereign and independent and whoever commits a crime “should be tried here (by) our people.”
 
Should Duterte succeed in pulling out of the ICC, the Philippines will be in the company of the likes of China, Iraq, Israel, Libya, Qatar, South Sudan, Turkey and Yemen. Russia and the United States of America, are signatories, but have not yet ratified the treaty.
 
Human Rights Watch has claimed that about 12,000 suspected drug users and peddlers have been killed in Duterte’s “all-out war” against narcotics that started in mid-2016.

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