SC denies De Lima request to join ICC oral arguments

MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – The Supreme Court (SC) en banc on Tuesday, August 7, voted to deny the request of detained Senator Leila de Lima to personally argue in the upcoming oral arguments on the Philippines’ withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC).

"The Court found no compelling reason to have Senator De Lima personally appear during the conduct of oral arguments," SC Spokesman Theodore Te said in a news conference on Tuesday.

The Court voted 10-2. The two dissents were Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza who voted to allow De Lima's participation.

Majority of the justices believe that the case will not be "prejudiced" if a lawyer other than De Lima argued their petition before the Court.

"The Court also noted that Senator De Lima did not, at any time, plead circumstances or competencies exclusive to her which make her appearance, to the exclusion of her co-petitioners, imperative and indispensable," Te said.


Two groups of petitioners will go up against Malacañang to challenge President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to pull the Philippines out from the ICC.

The first group is the opposition senators, who appealed to the Court late July to give De Lima a special furlough so she can argue the case on their behalf.

The senators told the Court 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 other group is the Philippine Coalition for the ICC (PCICC), a group which Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque used to co-chair.

The PCICC will be represented by Roque’s former chief of staff, Romel Bagares.

The oral arguments have been set for August 14, at 2 pm.

The ICC pullout was a reaction to the ICC starting an examination of alleged crimes against humanity in the Duterte administration's bloody anti-drug campaign.

Duterte justified the pullout, saying the Rome Statute was fraudulent because the Philippines was made to believe that the principle of complementarity will be observed. The principle states that the ICC only steps in when a member country’s judicial system is incapable of solving the problem on its own.

Duterte said the principle was violated when ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda started the examinations into the war on drugs. –

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email or tweet @lianbuan.