Philippines Report

PH withdrawal from ICC needs Senate approval – lawyer

Jude Sabio, the lawyer behind the charges filed against President Rodrigo Duterte in the International Criminal Court (ICC), said Saturday that the government needs the Senate's approval in order to withdraw from the international body.

“Sa aking pananaw, kailangan ng approval at concurrence ng Senate dahil ang pag-enter ng Pilipinas sa isang treaty ay isang shared power ng presidente at Senado,” Sabio told radio DZMM.

“Kung silang dalawa ay papasok sa isang tinatawag nating treaty, silang dalawa rin dapat ang lumabas sa nasabing treaty.”

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque earlier denied that the administration needs Senate approval and maintained that Duterte is not avoiding accountability.

“There is no obligation to do so . . . Is there anything that says executive needs to consult with the Senate when we withdraw from a treaty? None!” Roque said in a news conference Friday.

“The reason why the Senate consent is not necessary is that the Constitution does not provide it’s necessary. That is a decision to be made by the president as chief architect of foreign policy.”

Although there is no constitutional provision stating that the Philippines' withdrawal from a treaty needs Senate approval, Sabio said it is necessary to hear the public's opinion.

“Ang practical significance ay dapat nagkaroon muna ng public hearing sa Senado para marinig ang pananaw ng mga stakeholders kagaya ng Philippine Coalition for the International Criminal Court na nagtrabaho sa mahigit ng 11 taon para maging miyembro ang Pilipinas sa ICC,” he said.

“At pananaw ng iba pang grupo, civil society, simbahan. At ang pagpasok sa Rome Statue ay hindi lang ‘yan para kay Pangulong Duterte, para ‘yan sa buong bansa. Hindi dapat ganun kadali ‘yan.”

Sabio said senators should conduct an inquiry into the matter.

“Sa aking pananaw, dapat igiit ng opposition senators ‘yan sa Senado at magkaroon ‘yan ng talakayan. Kung pwede sana, dapat magkaroon yan ng public hearing,” he said.

“Kasi hindi naman puwede na hayaan na lang natin ang pangulo na unilaterally ay kakalas sa isang treaty lalo na sa isang sitwasyon natin ngayon na si Pangulong Duterte ay nakahabla sa ICC.


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“It’s highly scandalous and anomalous that the very same president who is being charged in the ICC or who is being complained of, is the very one who is withdrawing from the Rome Statute.”

Last month, the ICC announced it will begin its “preliminary examination” into the communication filed by Sabio, senior government officials, and several police officers of committing crimes against humanity with his controversial war on drugs.

Duterte, known for his tough language, previously said he was ready to face the ICC and answer all the allegations against him. He later said the ICC can never have jurisdiction over him.

Created in 1998 through the Rome Statute, the ICC has jurisdiction over 124 of its members, including the Philippines.

The Philippines signed the Rome Statute on December 28, 2000 and ratified and endorsed it in August 2011, during the time of Duterte’s predecessor, President Benigno Aquino III.

The ICC is the first permanent institution having power to exercise jurisdiction over persons for the most serious crimes of international concern such as genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression, and is seen to help end impunity for the perpetrators of these crimes.

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