If Vladimir Putin can do it, why can't he?
President Rodrigo Duterte said Thursday that the Philippines might withdraw from the International Criminal Court — an announcement that served his twin aims of flattering Russia and expressing disdain for critics of a “drug war” that has left thousands dead.
Facing condemnation for airstrikes in Syria and the annexation of Crimea, Putin, the Russian president, on Wednesday signed a decree to have Russia withdraw from the court. In recent months, three other countries — South Africa, Burundi and Gambia — also have said they plan to leave.
Now Duterte may follow. “They are useless, those in the International Criminal [Court]," he told reporters on Thursday. If Russia and China want to form a “new world order,” the Philippines would be the first to join, he said.
The whole thing is classic Duterte — an angry, off-the-cuff response to criticism that may or may not result in an actual change.
The president of the Philippines took office this summer on a promise to “kill all” of the country's drug dealers and users. In his first 4½ months on the job, thousands of Filipinos have been killed in the name of his anti-drug campaign, either shot in late-night raids or by masked assassins, often after being named by police.
Duterte has not taken kindly to questions about the killings — especially from the United States. Ahead of a summit in September, he blasted President Obama, lecturing him on colonialism and using a slang term that translates as “son of a whore.” He has since repeatedly threatened to end U.S.-Philippine military cooperation and align himself with China and Russia, without actually notifying the U.S. Embassy of any new policy.
It's no surprise that Duterte is not a fan of the ICC. In October, Fatou Bensouda, an ICC prosecutor, said she was watching the Philippines for signs of officials “ordering, requesting, encouraging or contributing” to crimes against humanity.
“I am deeply concerned about these alleged killings and the fact that public statements of high officials of the Republic of the Philippines seem to condone such killings and further seem to encourage state forces and civilians alike to continue targeting these individuals with lethal force,” she said.
Duterte on Thursday set off for an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Lima, Peru, where he reportedly plans to meet China's president, Xi Jinping, and new pal Putin.