SC to hold oral arguments on PH withdrawal from Int’l Criminal Court

Lian Buan

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

SC to hold oral arguments on PH withdrawal from Int’l Criminal Court

LeAnne Jazul

The oral arguments at the Supreme Court will be on July 24 at 2 pm

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) en banc set for oral arguments the petition of minority senators questioning President Rodrigo Duterte’s withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The oral arguments will be on July 24 at 2 pm.

“The Court ordered respondents to comment within a non-extendible period of 10 days from notice and the presentation of oral arguments,” SC spokesman Theodore Te said on Tuesday, June 5.

The respondents are Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, and Permanent Representative to the United Nations Teodoro Locsin Jr.

Minority senators Franklin Drilon, Francis Pangilinan, Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, Leila de Lima, Risa Hontiveros, and Antonio Trillanes IV sought the Supreme Court intervention to declare as “invalid or ineffective” the withdrawal from the ICC.

They argued that Article VII of the 1987 Constitution requires the executive department to seek the concurrence of at least two-thirds of the Senate to withdraw from the Rome Statute, the founding document of the ICC.

The minority senators said the Rome Statute has the same status as a law.

 When Duterte announced the withdrawal back in March, he said the treaty was “fraudulent” from the start because the Philippines was “made to believe that the principle of complementarity shall be observed, that the principle of due process and the presumption of innocence as mandated by our Constitution and the Rome Statute shall prevail, and that the legal requirement of publication to make the Rome Statute enforceable shall be maintained.” (FULL TEXT: Duterte’s statement on Int’l Criminal Court withdrawal)

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

In the examination, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda will determine jurisdiction, which the international tribunal will have if it finds that the Philippine justice system is unable or unwilling to investigate killings linked to the anti-drug campaign.

READ Rappler’s explainers:
Yes, Int’l Criminal Court can prosecute Duterte for killing spree

Police, military officials liable for Duterte’s illegal kill orders
What challenges will complaint vs Duterte face before ICC?
ICC’s track record and what it means for Duterte and the PH

Rules that apply

It is tricky business because when the Philippines signed the Rome Statute in 2011, there was no provision mandating the Senate’s concurrence in the event that it would be terminated in the future.

In February 2017, 14 senators filed Senate Resolution No. 289 which would have expressly stated that terminating a treaty needs Senate concurrence, as is the case when the Philippines enters into one.

Duterte’s ally Senator Manny Pacquiao blocked the resolution.

Without that resolution, then Majority Leader and now Senate President Vicente Sotto III said senators cannot stop Duterte from withdrawing from the ICC. 

That’s when the minority senators went to the SC, asking the Court to clarify the rules. –

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Lian Buan

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