‘It won’t stop International Criminal Court probe’

Marvin Sy - The Philippine Star
âIt wonât stop International Criminal Court probeâ

And while Duterte said the withdrawal would be immediately effective, others say it would take about a year.

MANILA, Philippines — Critics said the withdrawal of the Philippines’ ratification of the Rome Statute on the International Criminal Court indicated guilt on the part of President Duterte and would not affect the ICC examination of the human rights situation under his watch.

And while Duterte said the withdrawal would be immediately effective, others say it would take about a year.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon cited Article 127 of the Rome Statute, which deals with the withdrawal from the treaty by a state – the same provision used by Duterte in announcing his decision to withdraw the Philippines’ ratification of the statute.

Under Article 127, a state shall not be discharged, by reason of its withdrawal, from the obligations arising from this statute while it is a party to the statute, including any financial obligations which may have accrued.

“Its withdrawal shall not affect any cooperation with the Court in connection with criminal investigations and proceedings in relation to which the withdrawing state had a duty to cooperate and which were commenced prior to the date on which the withdrawal became effective, nor shall it prejudice in any way the continued consideration of any matter which was already under consideration by the Court prior to the date on which the withdrawal became effective,” according to the provision.

Drilon said it would be up to the ICC itself to decide on the continuation of its investigation into the case based on that particular provision of the Rome Statute.

“That is the rule. The ruling as to the continuation of the investigation will be ruled upon by the court itself. I’m sure the government will assert that it is no longer bound by the statute. That is a legal issue which will now be resolved by the court,” Drilon said.

According to Drilon, once the President has served notice to the secretary-general of the United Nations about his decision to withdraw from the statute, no further action is needed from the Senate.

While the Senate is mandated by the Constitution to review and give its concurrence to the ratification of treaties, there is no provision that requires the withdrawal of treaties to go through the same process.

Drilon recalled how he tried to introduce a resolution last year that would have paved the way for the Senate to have a role in the termination or withdrawal from treaties or international agreements.

While a majority of the senators signed the resolution, Drilon said it was not adopted after Sen. Manny Pacquiao raised an objection.

“So what we did was, in the individual treaties that were ratified by the Senate, individually we introduced this paragraph. Of course the Rome Statute ratification was not affected because it was ratified much earlier,” Drilon said.

Just fed up

Sen. Panfilo Lacson said it is the prerogative of the President to withdraw the ratification to a treaty.

While some may view the President’s decision as a way to avoid being subjected to the jurisdiction of the ICC, Lacson said it was more likely that Duterte was just fed up with the tirades against him from the international community, including representatives of the United Nations.

“Because of the statements already given out by Callamard and the High Commissioner so rightly or wrongly, he thinks there is already prejudgment,” Lacson said, referring to UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings Agnes Callamard and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al- Hussein, respectively.

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III also defended Duterte, although he admitted the tribunal could still continue the investigation despite the withdrawal.

“In effect, what the Philippines is saying is that ‘we don’t want to have anything to do with you because there’s an abuse of discretion on your part’,” Pimentel said.

He said the ICC should have been more discerning in entertaining a complaint from opposition politicians on a domestic anti-drugs policy.

When asked what the country may lose from the withdrawal, Pimentel said: “Maybe our solidarity with the other signatories –putting premium on an orderly criminal justice system at the international level.”

Pacquiao, for his part, said Duterte’s decision must be respected even as he called on the international community to help the country instead of criticizing it.

Guilty and afraid

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, who filed supplemental complaints against Duterte before the ICC, said the withdrawal announced by Duterte would have no legal effect on the cases already filed before the international tribunal.

Trillanes said the withdrawal is “a political move.”

“Because he knows that there is no way out for him in the ICC. He cannot intimidate them just like what he is doing here with our courts,” Trillanes added.

“Now Duterte, by withdrawing from the ICC, has practically admitted that he is guilty of the allegations filed against him,” he said.

The legal adviser of Vice President Leni Robredo said Duterte’s decision to withdraw the Philippines’ ratification of the ICC only makes him look guilty.

“This guy should get better lawyers. Withdrawal from the treaty takes effect a year from notice, and does not affect jurisdiction over matters that arose while the treaty was in force. In fact, all this does is make him look guilty and so very, very, very afraid,” Barry Gutierrez said in his Twitter account.

The ICC, which has jurisdiction over 124 of its members, including the Philippines, was created through the 1988 UN statute.

The Philippines signed the Rome Statute on Dec. 28, 2000 and ratified and endorsed it in August 2011, during term of former president Benigno Aquino III. – Paolo Romero, Jess Diaz, Janvic Mateo, Helen Flores

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