DFA welcomes Senate concurrence to Rome Statute

MANILA, Philippines -  The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) welcomed the Senate’s concurrence to the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court (ICC).

“The Senate’s concurrence is a clear reaffirmation of the country’s commitment to justice, human rights and the rule of law,” acting Foreign Affairs Secretary Antonio Rodriguez said.

“On behalf of Secretary Albert del Rosario, we thank the Senate for its strong leadership on this issue,” he said.

Seventeen senators voted to concur with the ratification of the treaty, with only one – Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile – voting against it.

The Rome Statute is the second treaty ratified under the Aquino administration, after the Phl-Japan Technical Cooperation Agreement.

The Philippines, through then Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York Enrique Manalo, signed the international agreement on Dec. 28, 2000. Aquino signed the Instrument of Ratification of the treaty last Feb. 28.

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Under the Philippine Constitution, treaties endorsed for ratification by the President need concurrence by two-thirds of all the senators before these can enter into force and effect.

The Rome Statute was concluded in 1998 during the United Nations Diplomatic Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Establishment of an ICC, which was participated in by some 140 states, including the Philippines.

The statute entered into force on July 1, 2002, after 60 states had become parties.

The Philippines has become the 117th country to have ratified the treaty, 15 of which are from Asia and the Pacific, including Cambodia, East Timor, Korea, Australia, and Japan.

Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, who delivered the sponsorship speech on the treaty, described the ICC as “the second most significant organization in the history of human relations, second only to the United Nations.”

“We simply want to be known as an advocate, if not a champion, of human rights in this region of the world,” Santiago said.

“We subscribe fully to the proposition that there should be no impunity when a person, no matter how high his position in the government, commits for example genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and in the event that there is a formal definition, the crime of aggression,” she added.

Explaining his negative vote, Enrile said he would not like to create a situation where “military people will be impeded in their effort to protect the safety, the peace and the interests of the Filipino people.”

But he said it does not mean that he does not believe in the administration of justice by the ICC.

“Apart from that, I am not sure that the President of this country, although immune from suit during his tenure or her tenure of office, could invoke that immunity in the International Court of Justice. The responsibility for the execution of our laws, especially our criminal laws, is lodged on the president of the country. That is part of his oath,” he added.

Malacañang meanwhile welcomed the move of the Senate to approve the resolution concurring with ratification of the Rome Statute.

“This is a concrete demonstration of the administration’s commitment to human rights and accountability within and among nations,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said, adding the DFA will deposit the instrument of ratification this week in New York. - Pia Lee-Brago, Marvin Sy, Aurea Calica 

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