ICC assembly chief regrets Philippines’ withdrawal
March 23 2019 12:20 AM
Conchita Morales (right), former head of the anti-graft body, gestures while former foreign affairs secretary Albert del Rosario listens during a press conference in Manila, yesterday.

By Al Jacinto & Glee Jalea / Manila Times

The president of the Assembly of States Parties, O-Gon Kwon (from the Republic of Korea), has expressed regret over the withdrawal of the Philippines from the Rome Statute, the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Kwon said the Assembly of States Parties, comprising more than 120 members from all regions of the world, was fully committed to the court’s mandate to help put an end to impunity for the most serious crimes of concern to the international community.
“I sincerely hope that the departure of the Philippines from the Rome Statute is only temporary and that it will rejoin the Rome Statute family in the future.
Encouraging universal adherence to the Rome Statute is key in strengthening our collective efforts to promote accountability for atrocity crimes and the rule of law,” he added in a statement posted on the ICC website.
Kwon said the ICC relies on the continued support of the international community to ensure its effectiveness in the fight against impunity.
The Assembly of States Parties is the management oversight and legislative body of the ICC.
It is composed of representatives of all States that have ratified and acceded to the Rome Statute.
The Philippines’ departure from the ICC on March 17 came in the wake of its preliminary examination of President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody war on drugs that had killed thousands of suspected drug users and pushers.
The ICC probe will determine if there is reasonable basis to proceed with an inquiry into charges of crimes against humanity.
Since Duterte was elected in 2016, some 5,000 suspected drug users and pushers were killed in police operations or had been executed by motorcycle-riding gunmen.
The president has publicly said he intends to kill more drug suspects until he steps down in 2022.
Opposition candidates also yesterday hailed the move of former Foreign Affairs secretary Albert del Rosario and retired Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales to sue Chinese President Xi Jinping before the ICC.
“The case filed by the two former government officials before the ICC against China is long overdue, something that this government should have done a long time ago,” veteran election lawyer Romulo Macalintal said. The filing came after Rosario, Morales-Carpio and a group of fishermen went to the ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor last March 13 and accused Xi and other Chinese officials of committing crimes against humanity for causing environmental damage in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea). Former solicitor general Florin Hilbay expressed his “unequivocal support” to the two government officials.
“All these transgressions done by the Chinese government were possible because of a single reason: the Duterte administration failed to protect our sovereignty when it refused to defend the tribunal’s decision in the case we won against China last July 2016,” he said, referring to the international arbitral court based in The Netherlands..
For Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano, and former Deputy Speaker Erin Tanada, the move of del Rosario and Carpio-Morales was a “slap” on the administration for its stance on issues involving China.

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