Roque argued that the Philippines' withdrawal of membership from the International Criminal Court cannot be addressed by a petition filed before the high court. “The courts must defer matters on foreign affairs to the Executive,” the palace spokesman said.
Presidential Communications, file
Roque: ICC withdrawal within executive branch's jurisdiction
Kristine Joy Patag ( - June 13, 2018 - 6:07pm

MANILA, Philippines — Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque stressed that the executive department has jurisdiction over the Philippines’ withdrawal from the International Criminal Court.

In a statement on Wednesday afternoon, Roque reiterated that President Rodrigo Duterte “is the chief architect of the country’s foreign policy.”

“The constitution makes no mention that concurrence of the Senate is necessary to validate the Philippines’ withdrawal from the International Criminal Court,” the spokesman added.

The 1987 Constitution expressly states that Senate concurrence is needed in the ratification of treaties but does not mention a similar requirement for withdrawal.

An attempt to pass a Senate resolution expressing the sense of the chamber that ratification is also needed to withdraw ratification did not get enough votes to pass. In any case, a Senate resolution is not binding.

Roque's statement was in reaction to the petition filed by the Philippine Coalition for the International Criminal Court filed on Wednesday morning—the second legal challenge to the executive department’s decision to withdraw the country’s membership from the international tribunal.

The petition filed by the PCICC puts forth the same argument of the petition filed by minority senators filed in May. Both groups urged the high court to nullify the decision of the executive branch due to a lack of necessary concurrence from the Senate.

The PCICC, in its 51-page petition, said that while president is the chief architect of our foreign policy, Duterte’s order “runs against an expressed legislative policy.”

READ: Philippines' withdrawal from ICC faces new challenge at SC

The petitioners claim that the chief executive’s decision was “based on capricious, whimsical, ridiculous, misleading or misled, incoherent and/or patently false grounds, with no basis in fact, law or jurisprudence.”

They noted that the withdrawal of the country's membership came after the international tribunal opened a preliminary examination into the alleged crimes against humanity by President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration.

The government has rejected these allegations, saying the issue of human rights has been "weaponized" and "politicized" by the political opposition and by rights watchdogs.

The petitioners cited the Senate’s ratification of the Rome Statute and in the Republilc Act No. 9851 or on the International Humanitarian Law. They cited Article VII Section 21 of the 1987 Constitution which states that “entering into treaty or international agreement requires participation of Congress, that is, through concurrence of at least two-thirds of all the members of the Senate.”

But Roque argued that the matter cannot be addressed by a petition filed before the high court. “The courts must defer matters on foreign affairs to the Executive,” the palace spokesman said.

The SC is set to tackle the case on July 24, in an oral argument. — Kristine Joy Patag

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