MANILA, Philippines – Bringing the issue of Philippines’ withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC) before the Supreme Court might be risky given the current “political atmosphere.”
For Commissioner Roberto Cadiz of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), this is the “bigger” consideration when filing a case to resolve whether or not the withdrawal will need the concurrence of the Senate.
“For human rights advocates and for those who believe that we should be a member of the ICC, there is a certain risk in bringing it to the SC given the political atmosphere where the SC is operating now,” he told Rappler editor-at-large Marites Vitug in an interview on Thursday, April 5.
The Supreme Court is now embroiled in controversy after several Justices took part during the impeachment proceedings against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. (READ: Sereno impeachment: Cracks in the Supreme Court)
The CHR so far has not decided the legal recourse it would take regarding Duterte’s decision. But their opinion stands that since a Senate concurrence is needed when ratifying a treaty then logically, a Senate nod is also needed when exiting.
But a resolution that says the country can only terminate or withdraw from a treaty with the concurrence of the Senate was blocked by Senator Manny Pacquiao. (READ: Can Senate stop PH’s withdrawal from ICC? Pacquiao blocked the resolution)
While any party can file a case to question the decision, Cadiz said he would rather “leave the issue hanging” for now because the SC might just validate Duterte’s decision to withdraw.
“There’s a big risk that the SC will say that the withdrawal does not need the consent of the Senate and if that decision is made, that will effectively make the withdrawal valid,” Cadiz said.
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Duterte’s decision to withdraw from the International Criminal Court was no surprise to the CHR, according to Cadiz, based on his actions and statements ever since ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in October 2016 that it was “closely following” the war on drugs.
Bensouda’s announcement that her office will start a preliminary examination into the alleged crimes was considered as the “final straw” for Duterte.
But human rights groups says withdrawing from the international court “exposes Filipinos to possible atrocious crimes without resort to justice and accountability.” (READ: Duterte’s plan to withdraw from Int’l Criminal Court ‘anti-people’)
Cadiz, meanwhile, said that Duterte’s decision “strengthens the message of impunity on the part of the government.”
But while it might make their work harder, CHR will continue to work twice as hard to ensure that human rights are respected by the government and that justice will be given to the victims of extrajudicial killings under Duterte.
“I imagine our work will be more difficult but we will continue to fulfil our mandate as is expected of us under the 1987 Philippines Constitution and also as the national human rights institutions with mandates and with obligations,” he said. – Rappler.com