MANILA, Philippines – The Senate minority bloc has asked the Supreme Court (SC) to allow detained Senator Leila de Lima to represent them in the oral arguments on their petition against Malacañang’s withdrawal of the Philippines from the International Criminal Court (ICC).
In a manifestation with motion filed on Tuesday, July 24, opposition senators asked the SC to grant the earlier petition of De Lima, a lawyer and former justice secretary, “to argue the case at hand in her personal capacity as a petitioner.” The oral arguments are scheduled on August 14.
“[They] are of the strong conviction that the arguments for the cause of all the petitioners will be best presented before this Honorable Court by their colleague, Senator De Lima,” the manifestation read.
“The issues in this case being of transcendental importance, Senator De Lima should not be prevented from personally arguing the case before the Honorable Court by mere reason of her incidental detention,” it added.
The manifestation was filed by Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, and senators Francis Pangilinan, Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, Risa Hontiveros, and Antonio Trillanes IV.
De Lima is detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center over alleged illegal drug charges, which she said were fabricated by President Rodrigo Duterte and his allies. (READ: De Lima: One year of living and surviving in jail)
In May, the 6-member minority bloc asked the SC to invalidate Malacañang’s decision to withdraw the country from the Rome Statute, saying Senate concurrence is needed.
Article VII, Section 21, of the 1987 Constitution states that “no treaty of international agreement shall be valid and effective unless concurred in by at least two-thirds of all the members of the Senate.” While it did not explicitly cover treaty withdrawals, the opposition maintained the Senate should have a say on it.
“The executive cannot abrograte or repeal a law. In the same vein, the executive cannot unilaterally withdraw from a treaty or international agreement because such withdrawal is equivalent to a repeal of a law,” the minority bloc said in its May 16 petition.
In 2011, the Senate concurred in the ratification of the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the ICC, where Duterte is facing charges of crimes against humanity over his bloody campaign against illegal drugs.
In March, Duterte ordered the Philippines’ withdrawal from the ICC, citing the “baseless, unprecedented, and outrageous attacks” against him and his administration.
The Senate could have had a say in the ICC withdrawal but a resolution, signed by 14 senators, was blocked by neophyte senator Manny Pacquiao, a staunch Duterte ally.
Instead, the Senate included a provision in treaties it approved in the 17th Congress requiring its concurrence in the termination of deals and agreements. – Rappler.com