16 March 2018 - The Philippines began the process for its withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Thursday when it officially served notice to the United Nations that it has decided to opt out of the Rome Statute.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano said the withdrawal was formally conveyed in a note verbale that Philippine Permanent Representative Teodoro Locsin, Jr. handed over to Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, the Chef de Cabinet of UN Secretary General Antonio Gutteres at 6:07 p.m. New York time on Thursday or 6:07 a.m. Manila time on Friday.

“Our decision to pull out of the Court is a principled stand against those who politicize and weaponize human rights,” Secretary Cayetano said in a statement issued shortly after arriving this morning in Sydney where he will represent President Duterte in the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit.

In the note conveying its withdrawal, the Philippines gave its assurance to the International community that it continues to be guided by the rule of law embodied in the Constitution and its long-standing tradition of upholding human rights.

“The Government affirms its commitment to fight against impunity for atrocity crimes, notwithstanding its withdrawal from the Rome Statute, especially since the Philippines has a national legislation punishing atrocity crimes,” the note said.

“The Government remains resolute in effecting its principal responsibility to ensure the long-term safety of the nation in order to promote inclusive national development and secure a decent and dignified life for all,” the one-page note said.

In his statement explaining Manila’s decision to pull out of the Rome Statute, Secretary Cayetano pointed to the well-orchestrated campaign to mislead the international community, to crucify President Duterte and the Philippines by distorting the human rights situation in the country.

“This campaign against President Duterte and the Philippines is being effectively carried out by elements who seek to undermine our government and who have successfully infiltrated the human rights community and weaponized human rights protection mechanisms to advance their goal of overthrowing our democratically installed government,” Secretary Cayetano said.

“It is doubly lamentable that members of the international community, who include our own partners in the war against terror, have allowed themselves to be used as pawns by these individuals and organizations in undermining our own efforts to restore the rule of law,” Secretary Cayetano added.

“We are, however, confident that there is no crime or liability to speak of in the first place since our campaign against methamphetamines and other narcotics is a legitimate law enforcement operation designed to protect all Filipinos and uphold the rule of law,” the Secretary pointed out.

According to Secretary Cayetano, it has always been the position of the Philippines that States have the inherent responsibility to adopt and implement measures, consistent with their respective laws, to effectively address threats to the safety and well-being of their citizens.

The Secretary said that in the case of the Philippines, President Duterte has identified the proliferation of illegal drugs and its link to other forms of criminality as a serious threat to our people that had to be immediately addressed.

“The campaign we are waging against illegal drugs is consistent with the sovereign duty of any State to protect its people,” he said, adding that in the conduct of this campaign, the Philippines is guided by the rule of law embodied in its Constitution, statutes, and its long-standing human rights obligations.

“Contrary to what some parties are trying to make it appear, there is no failure on the part of the Philippine Government in dealing with issues, problems, and concerns arising from this campaign,” Secretary Cayetano pointed out. “These are dealt with by independent and well-functioning organs and agencies of our State.” END
Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, the Chef de Cabinet of United Nations Secretary General Antonio Gutteres reads the note verbale handed by Ambassador Teodoro Locsin Jr., Philippine Permanent Representative to the United Nations, conveying Manila’s decision to withdraw from the Rome Statute. With the delivery of the notice, the countdown for the one-year withdrawal period from the ICC, officially started on 15 March 2018.