Int’l Criminal Court: Judge Pangalangan stays on despite PH withdrawal

Lian Buan

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Int’l Criminal Court: Judge Pangalangan stays on despite PH withdrawal
Philippine Judge Raul Pangalangan is currently assigned to the pre-trial division of the International Criminal Court

MANILA, Philippines – The International Criminal Court (ICC) said on Friday, March 16, that Raul Pangalangan will stay on as judge of the Court if and when the withdrawal of the Philippines takes effect. 

“The withdrawal would not affect the status of the judge from the Philippines as the Rome Statute only refers to a requirement of State Party nationality at the time of election but not afterwards,” the ICC said in a statement sent to Rappler Friday morning.

The ICC added: “Once elected and sworn in, the judges shall hold office for a term of nine years in accordance with the Statute and the principle of judicial independence.”

The ICC’s statement comes after President Rodrigo Duterte announced he is withdrawing the Philippines from the ICC as a result of what he described as “biased” preliminary examinations into the high number of killings in his war on drugs. (FULL TEXT: Duterte’s statement on Int’l Criminal Court withdrawal)

Pangalangan, who was elected to the ICC in July 2015is assigned to the pre-trial division, trial chambers IX and VIII.

The Philippine war on drugs case will not reach the pre-trial division until Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda is done with her investigation.

‘Killings still happening’

At this point, Bensouda is at the preliminary examinations level only. If and when she determines jurisdiction, she will proceed with the investigation. This process may take years and years, based on the ICC’s track record.

Detained Senator Leila de Lima has urged the ICC to act with more urgency, saying that “killings are still happening.”

If Bensouda finds the evidence sufficient, she will request pre-trial judges to issue an arrest warrant or a summons to appear. The ICC relies on the country to arrest the individual and turn him or her over to the Court.

There are usually 3 pre-trial judges assigned to one case.

According to the ICC, the UN Secretary-General, the depositary of the Rome Statute, has yet to serve notice that such withdrawal has, in fact, taken place.

Pangalangan is a former dean of the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Law and publisher of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. 

He filled the seat vacated by deceased former Philippine senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, who stepped down in June 2014 due to an ailment. 

Pangalangan was a former candidate to the Philippine Supreme Court, and was also nominated to be chief justice after Renato Corona was impeached in 2012. 

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan is a senior investigative reporter, and minder of Rappler's justice, human rights and crime cluster.