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VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Duterte says PH was ‘not ever’ a member of the ICC. Is that so?

A month since his administration observed proper procedure and withdrew as state party to the Rome Statute which created the International Criminal Court (ICC), President Rodrigo Duterte now claims the Philippines “was not ever, ever a member” of the tribunal.


Duterte, accosting ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, in an April 13 speech said:

Sinong pangalan nito, si (What’s the name, this) Fatou, you do not have jurisdiction even to conduct preliminary investigation. There is no basis at all, because we were never–the Philippines was not ever, ever a member of that ICC for the reason that there was no publication.”

Source: Arrival Speech of President Rodrigo Duterte, April 13, 2018, Davao City, watch from 54:51 to 55:20


The Philippine government March 17 notified the United Nations Secretary General of its withdrawal as state party to the Rome Statute “in accordance with the relevant provisions” of the treaty.

The written notification signed by Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano reads:

“The Government of the Republic of the Philippines has the honor to inform the Secretary General, in his capacity as depositary of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, of its decision to withdraw from the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Statute.”

Source: United Nations Treaty Collection, Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Philippines: Withdrawal


Article 127 of the Rome Statute states:

“A State Party may, by written notification addressed to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, withdraw from this Statute.”

Source: United Nations Treaty Collection, Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Philippines: Withdrawal


The withdrawal came a month after Bensouda announced the ICC will open a preliminary examination on crimes allegedly committed by the Philippine government in its war on drugs campaign.

It takes effect March 19, 2019, ending the Philippines’ ICC membership which started Aug. 23, 2011 when the Senate ratified the Rome Statute.

On Aug. 30, 2011, a team of representatives led by Sen. Loren Legarda deposited the instrument of ratification at the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs in New York, making the Philippines the 117th party to the Statute.

The treaty entered into force Nov. 1, 2011.

Since then, the Philippines had been obliged to cooperate with the ICC.

In December 2017, under the Duterte administration, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque delivered a speech on the government’s behalf during the 16th Assembly of States Parties, an annual gathering of ICC members to discuss the budget, provide funding and elect the court’s judges and prosecutor.

Roque in his speech urged the ICC to “resist attempts” to use the court to “destabilize governments.”

In 2016, Roque said the passage of Republic Act No. 9851 or the Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and Other Crimes Against Humanity in 2009 is meant to implement the country’s obligations as party to the Rome Statute. (See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: ICC can strip off Duterte’s immunity)

He also earlier hailed the Philippines’ entry into the ICC in 2011

ICC records show the Philippines contributed 397,896 euros (around P25.6 million) as of March 30, 2017 to help fund the court’s expenses.

Duterte on several occasions said the nonpublication of the Philippine ratification of the Rome Statute makes it nonbinding.

Yet, a 1997 executive order by former President Fidel Ramos on guidelines on international agreements does not mention a publication requirement. (See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Panelo’s claim about US and ICC misleading)



Sources:, ICC: At long last, Aug. 25, 2011. Retrieved from Harry Roque’s Blog April 19, 2018.

International Criminal Court, Assembly of States Parties Report of the Committee on Budget and Finance on the work of its twenty-eighth session

International Criminal Court, How the Court works

International Criminal Court, Statement of the Philippines Delivered By His Excellency Mr. Harry Roque, Presidential Spokesperson, Office of the President

International Criminal Court, The Philippines becomes the 117th State to join the Rome Statute system

Official Gazette, The Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines

Presidential Communications Operations Office, From the Presidential Spokesperson, March 14, 2018.

Senate of the Philippines, Senate approves ratification of Rome Statute on final reading

United Nations Treaty Collection, Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Philippines: Withdrawal


(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative.)


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2018-04-19 08:37:27 UTC