Manila might pull out of war crimes court

The International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands. Last month, its chief prosecutor had warned that those behind the alleged extrajudicial killings in Mr Duterte's ongoing war on drugs could face prosecution.
The International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands. Last month, its chief prosecutor had warned that those behind the alleged extrajudicial killings in Mr Duterte's ongoing war on drugs could face prosecution.PHOTO: REUTERS

Duterte hits out at 'shameless bullies' and threatens exit after Russia's withdrawal

DAVAO • Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, incensed at foreign criticism of his deadly war on drugs, threatened to follow in Russia's footsteps yesterday and pull his country out of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Russia formally withdrew its signature to the ICC's founding Rome Statute on Wednesday, calling the tribunal's work "one-sided and inefficient".

Speaking in his home town of Davao city in the southern Philippines shortly before flying to Peru for a regional summit, Mr Duterte said: "They (Russians) may have thought the International Criminal Court is (useless), so they withdrew their membership.

"I might follow. Why? Because these shameless bullies only pick on small countries like us."

The Philippines is among 124 countries that are members of the United Nations-backed ICC, the world's only permanent war crimes court.

Mr Duterte also repeated an earlier threat to pull the Philippines out of the UN, saying the world body had failed to stop wars that had killed "thousands" of women and children.

"You know, if China and Russia would decide to create a new order, I will be the first to join," he added.

Mr Duterte won the May election in a landslide after vowing to crack down on illegal drugs and go after tens of thousands of drug dealers.

More than 4,000 people have been killed since he took office on June 30. About 1,800 were shot dead by police and about 2,600 others were murdered by unidentified attackers, according to official statistics.

The killings have drawn criticism from Manila's key defence ally the United States as well as the UN.

Mr Duterte has struck back by calling US President Barack Obama a "son of a whore" and UN chief Ban Ki Moon a "fool".

Last month, ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said she was "deeply concerned" about thousands of alleged extrajudicial killings in the Philippines, warning that those responsible could face prosecution.

Mr Duterte has challenged Mr Ban and international human rights experts to visit the country and investigate the allegations, while insisting that his government has done nothing illegal.

Yesterday, ahead of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Lima, Mr Duterte warned his international counterparts, including Mr Obama, not to lecture him on human rights.

"They will really get it from me, and I will lecture them on the finer points of civilisation," he said.

"You threaten us as if we are your labourers and threaten to have me jailed. Me, go to jail? You, children of whores, I will take you all down with me."

Mr Duterte recalled his confrontation with Mr Obama and Mr Ban at the Asean summit in Laos in September, during which the US leader cancelled a bilateral meeting with him.

"They refused to listen, so I said, 'You sons of whores, s**** you!', " Mr Duterte said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 18, 2016, with the headline 'Manila might pull out of war crimes court'. Print Edition | Subscribe