Petitioners questioning the legality of the country’s withdrawal from the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) argued on Tuesday, August 28, before the Supreme Court (SC).
Philippine Coalition for the International Criminal Court (PCICC) urged the SC to issue a mandamus against the Duterte administration. A mandamus is known as a judicial writ issued in the form of a command to order a government office or official to perform a statutory duty. The end goal is for the country to “withdraw the withdrawal.”
Gilbert Andres, one of the PCICC legal counsels, said that executive decision of pulling out of the international court would rob people of opportunities to defend themselves should state or armed forces commit a crime against them.
“The Philippines’ withdrawal from the Rome Statute will abolish the Filipino people’s parallel means of enforcing the right to effective remedies against international crimes committed by state forces and/or armed forces,” Andres said.
Andres also amplified the need for the international court by emphasizing the intensity of crimes subjected to the institution as reported by The Philippine Star.
“Due to the gravity of the crimes that are subject of the Rome Statute, there is a need for the right to effective remedies against these international crimes and this right to effective remedies is provided in various human rights instruments,” Andres said.
Andres also noted that “the ICC is precisely that parallel means of enforcing that right against these gross human rights violations.”
Lawyer Romel Bagares also questioned the absence of a Senate concurrence in the said withdrawal.
“A treaty requires Senate concurrence and the Rome Statute is a treaty, the unilateral withdrawal is interference, a violation of the separation of powers,” Bagares explained.
SC Associate Justice Marvic Leonen responded to those arguments stating that the Philippines’ withdrawal from the Rome Statute of International Criminal Court (ICC) is a done deal and it is too late to nullify it.
“It is already a completed act. Only in the Philippines that you claim there is a defect.” Leonen said.
Leonen is certain that the Philippines has already completed its withdrawal of membership from the ICC. He noted that only in the Philippines can one claim that there is a defect in the motion.
“As far as the international community, the Philippines has withdrawn its membership. To rejoin it is not to withdraw the withdrawal but to sign and to accede. So, it is too late,” Leonen said.
He also explained that in order for the complaint to have a legal standing “principally it must be shown that there is a personal, substantial and direct injury suffered by petitioners.”
The associate justice then asked one of the legal counsels, Ray Paolo Santiago, what his injury is, to which he replied: “I have no direct injury as of yet.”
Opposition senators skip oral arguments on ICC withdrawal
Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, Sen. Franklin Drilon and Sen. Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV failed to show up during the supposed first hearing on the ICC withdrawal. They sent instead their legal representation Anne Marie Corominas to deliver their petition.
“Petitioner senators respectfully move that they be given until the next session of the oral arguments within which to decide an appropriate course of action with the issue of representation of these proceedings,” Corominas asked the Court.