It is now official, like Singapore, China, the United States, Russia, India, Pakistan, Turkey and many others, The Philippines is no longer under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC is not only a flawed organisation but a fatally flawed one. This fact has been recognised by President Duterte and as such he has taken the absolutely proper action steps to free The Philippines from its potentially damaging jurisdiction.
It is well known that the International Criminal Court is a highly prejudiced organisation that has never sought the prosecution of war criminals who are responsible for carnage on a mass scale – those who have killed the greatest number of totally innocent civilians. Instead, the ICC has a record of going after the poorest countries and humiliating their leaders before the cameras while the most substantial war criminals of the 21st century continue to live as free men and women.
The deeply politicised International Criminal Court, of which none of the three global superpowers (China, Russia, US) are members, has long been associated with the prosecution and persecution of African leaders. In fact 90% of all defendants brought before the ICC have been African. In 2016, the Gambia, South Africa and Burundi announced their intention to withdraw from the court, but later changed their decision in the face of international pressure. In South Africa, the issue is particularly sensitive as in spite of the clearly anti-African bias of the ICC, South Africa has tended towards a commitment to international organisations, no matter how ineffective, owing to the spirit of reconciliation which formed the basis of Nelson Mandela’s post Apartheid government.
But the unjust double standards of the ICC that has seen African leaders sitting before a court, deprived of any dignity, while countries with larger armed forces, vastly more weapons and a track record of large scale international war crimes have never been brought before the ICC, leaves the Court’s reputation in tatters.
As it stands, few Asian states are members of the ICC. Now that The Philippines has withdrawn, only Cambodia, Bangladesh, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mongolia and Japan will remain as full members.
The Philippines is not the first country to withdraw from the ICC and will certainly not be the last. For The Philippines, the long road to formal withdrawal began with the court attempting to meddle in the internal law enforcement procedures in the country whilst simultaneously insulting the country’s elected political leader, Rodrigo Duterte.
During the process of Philippine withdrawal from the ICC, Duterte called on other nations to exit the broken institution.
Duterte has directly called for countries throughout the world to follow Manila and remove their nations from ICC treaty jurisdiction. During a speech last year, Duterte stated,
“I will convince everybody now under the treaty to get out, get out. It is not a document (the ICC treaty) that was prepared by anybody, it’s EU-sponsored”.
Duterte was absolutely correct in describing the court as Eurocentric in its approach to justice as well as its systematic targeting of non-European political leaders.
In a global sense therefore, Duterte’s ICC withdrawal has been a watershed for developing nations in both Asia and Africa that seek genuine justice rather than systematically bigoted Eurocentric justice. Furthermore, domestically, Duterte has proved that he has been able to deliver on a big promise which has helped to recast the dignity of the nation.
But when it comes to throwing off the shackles of the past and moving forward into a more enlightened future, withdrawing The Philippines from the ICC is only half the battle. In order for The Philippines to be truly free and indeed truly prosperous, Duterte’s greatest achievement must be a total reformation of the country’s political system. This of course means drafting a new constitution that can deliver a federal-parliamentary system of governance in addition to the elimination of constitutional restrictions on foreign direct investment (FDI).
Now that Duterte has re-energised the nation when it comes to changing what and who can and cannot dictate to the Filipino people, it is high time for him to revisit his erstwhile touted commitments to shift to a federal-parliamentary system that will in turn modernise FDI laws. Ultimately, by shifting to a more effective, efficient, transparent, cost-effective, meritocratic and more democratically representative parliamentary system, the Filipino people will at long last have a political system that represents their needs and one that is prepared to face modern challenges. This stands in opposition to a current system built on deadlock, personality contests and needlessly complicated presidential/congressional governance.
Likewise, a federal system would liberate the culturally diverse regions of The Philippines from the whip hand of Imperial Manila. This would allow regional leaders to help shape their localities according to the specific aspirations of the people whilst also allowing the added benefit of greater autonomy for distinct cultures and indigenous non-Tagalog speakers.
Finally, by eliminating constitutional restrictions on FDI, the economy can finally produce and cultivate wealth domestically rather than wall the people off from the kinds of opportunities at home that presently OFWs are forced to speak abroad.
If these three things are accomplished, not only will Duterte have killed off the colonial mentality, have severed The Philippines from the neo-colonial/Eurocentric ICC, but most importantly of all, he will have freed the people to make the very best of themselves and their country – something that is long overdue in more ways than one.