China supports PH withdrawal from ICC

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 30) — The Chinese government voiced its support for the Philippines’ move to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC).

“China always maintains that the ICC should respect the sovereignty of nations, act cautiously and avoid being used as a political tool,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang on Wednesday.

“China believes that a sovereign country has the right to say no to political manipulation under the cloak of law,” he added.

This follows the Philippine government’s announcement on March 14 that the country will be pulling out from the international tribunal.

READ: Duterte: PH to withdraw from ICC 'effective immediately'

The ICC earlier announced it would begin preliminary examination on the administration's controversial war on drugs.

The preliminary examination is not an investigation, the ICC said, but a process to see if there is basis to proceed with an investigation.

READ: Int'l Criminal Court to begin preliminary examination on PH killings

Lu, however, praised the drug war due to its supposed positive effects to the Philippines.

“We have said before that since he took office, President Rodrigo Duterte has firmly cracked down on drug-related crimes and improved public security, which creates the sound environment for the Philippines' economic development and its people's peaceful life and wins full approval and wide support at home,” he said.

Lu also called on the international community to support the campaign.

“The international community should give more understanding and support to those efforts instead of pointing fingers and casting blames,” he added.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque earlier said the ICC should just drop the case as the government would not offer any help in the international tribunal's review of the country's bloody drug war.

READ: Roque: PH won't cooperate in ICC probe on drug war

The Philippine National Police and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, however, said they are willing to provide data on drug war to the ICC with the approval of either the Interior Department or the Malacañang.

READ: PNP, PDEA: We'll give drug war data to ICC if Palace agrees

The ICC is looking into the drug war after lawyer Jude Sabio filed a communication in April 2017. Sabio is the lawyer of self-confessed hitman Edgar Matobato, who said he killed people in Davao City upon the orders of then Mayor Duterte.

Sabio accused Duterte of "repeatedly, unchangingly, and continuously" committing mass murder. He said 1,400 individuals were killed by the so-called Davao Death Squad under the leadership of then Mayor Duterte, and 7,000 individuals were killed in the government's war on drugs since Duterte took office.

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano, two of the President’s strongest critics, also filed a supplemental complaint against Duterte at the ICC in June 2017.