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SC merges 2 petitions vs. PH withdrawal from ICC

The Supreme Court (SC) has consolidated two petitions seeking to void the Philippine government’s withdrawal from the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

With this consolidation, the high court is set to conduct oral arguments for the petitions on Aug. 7 at 2 p.m. at the SC New Session Hall, new SC Building, Padre Faura Street in Manila.

The SC also required the counsels for both parties to attend the preliminary conference for the oral argument on July 31 at the same venue.

The first petition was filed by opposition Senators Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, Franklin Drilon, Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino, Leila de Lima, Risa Hontiveros, and Antonio Trillanes IV filed petition for certiorari and mandamus and said that under Article VII Section 21 of the 1987 Constitution, “entering into treaty or international agreement requires participation of Congress, that is, through concurrence of at least 2/3 of all the members of the Senate.”

Last week, de Lima, one of the petitioners, asked the SC to allow her to participate in the oral arguments.

“This Honorable Court is respectfully asked to take judicial notice of its practice of permitting members of Congress to appear before it and argue their cases,” de Lima said in her four-page manifestation with motion.

The detained senator is the lead counsel for the minority senators.

The lawmakers also asked the high court to compel the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Philippine Permanent Mission to the United Nations to notify the United Nations Secretary General that the Philippines is revoking the notice of withdrawal that it received last March 17.

The diplomatic note stated that the “decision to withdraw is the Philippines’ principled stand against those who politicize and weaponize human rights, even as its independent and well-functioning organs and agencies continue to exercise jurisdiction over complaints, issues, problems and concerns arising from its efforts to protect the people.”

The petitioners said the Rome Statute is a treaty validly entered into by the Philippines that has the same status as a law enacted by Congress.

In withdrawing its membership from the ICC, the petitioners claimed that the respondents committed usurpation of legislative powers, which is punishable under the Revised Penal Code.

The second petition was filed by the Philippine Coalition for the International Criminal Court (PCICC) led by former Commission on Human Rights chairperson Loretta Ann Rosales.

Named respondents in the petition were Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Philippine Ambassador to the UN Teodoro Locsin Jr., and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo.

The respondents will be represented by the Office of the Solicitor General.

On March 14, President Rodrigo Duterte announced the Philippines’ withdrawal of its ratification of the Rome Statute, a United Nations (UN) treaty creating the ICC.

In the statement, Duterte cited “baseless, unprecedented and outrageous attacks” against him and his administration as the reason for his withdrawal as a state party.

“Given the baseless, unprecedented and outrageous attacks on my person as well as against my administration, engineered by the officials of the United Nations, as well as the attempt by the International Criminal Court special prosecutor to place my person within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, in violation of due process and the presumption of innocence expressly guaranteed by the Philippine Constitution and recognized no less by the Rome Stature, I therefore declare and forthwith give notice, as President of the Republic of the Philippines, that the Philippines is withdrawing its ratification of the Rome Statute effective immediately,” the President said in a statement.

This came after ICC special prosecutor Fatou Bensouda began a preliminary examination on the alleged human rights violations amid the Duterte administration’s intensified war on drugs. PNA

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