PH lawyers are amused with Duterte’s ICC arguments

WITHDRAWAL. President Rodrigo Duterte announces the withdrawal of the Philippines from the International Criminal Court (ICC).

WITHDRAWAL. President Rodrigo Duterte announces the withdrawal of the Philippines from the International Criminal Court (ICC).

It was an unsigned document, not bearing the seal of Malacañang, that Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo handed out to reporters afternoon Wednesday, March 14.

There were two versions, a condensed 3-page press statement, and a 15-page document that reads like a position paper. It has one very impactful message: Duterte is withdrawing the Philippines from the International Criminal Court.

Duterte even said the Rome Statute was void from the very start as far as the Philippines was concerned, because the country, according to him, was misled into believing that the principle of complementarity would apply.

Lawyers who have had time to read the document are amused.

International Law professor Tony La Viña said the arguments “would get a failing mark in any criminal law, remedial law, or public international law class that I teach.”

“I hope none of my former students in the government wrote this or any part of it,” La Viña said. 

A former dean of a ranking law school told Rappler: “The position paper seems to have been written by a second year law student who has mastery only of the first few provisions of the civil code and a slight knowledge of constitutional law. It appears that whoever wrote it has not taken up any course on international law.

Former University of the Philippines (UP) law professor Barry Gutierrez, who also serves as legal adviser of Vice President Leni Robredo, said on Twitter: This guy should get better lawyers.”

This guy should get better lawyers. Withdrawal from the treaty takes effect A YEAR from notice, and DOES NOT affect jurisdiction over matters that arose while the treaty was in force. In fact, all this does is make him look guilty and so very, very, very afraid. pic.twitter.com/eOVcUttANU — Barry Gutierrez (@barrygutierrez3) March 14, 2018

Who wrote it?

It's not clear who wrote it, but it was Panelo who distributed it. Sources told Malacañang reporter Pia Ranada that the statements never went through the Office of the Executive Secretary (OES).

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, an expert in international law and one of those who pushed for the Philippines to be part of the ICC, said he did not see the statement before they were publicized.

“No, I knew about the directive only,” Roque told Rappler.

Roque’s former firm, the Center for International Law, rebutted the arguments on the statement, tagging as erroneous Duterte’s claim that the Philippines was misled.

“The country in fact had a leading participation in the establishment of the ICC, as the Philippines actively participated in the drafting of the Rome Statute,” CenterLaw said. 

Roque said that while he is saddened that the Philippines is withdrawing from the ICC, he nevertheless believes it is the right decision.

It prompted a UP lawyer to say: “UP Law has one strike left, after Roque and Panelo.”

Panelo, like Roque, is an alumnus of the UP College of Law. – Rappler.com

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 lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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