PH Supreme Court orders gov’t to answer petition against ICC withdrawal

Malacañang is being ordered by the Supreme Court (SC) to answer the petition filed by six opposition senators last month challenging the administration’s withdrawal of the country’s membership in the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The SC also ruled to hold the case for oral arguments on July 24.

The respondents — Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano and Philippine Ambassador to the UN Teodoro Locsin Jr. — are required to submit their comment to the petition within 10 days from receipt of the resolution.

 Senators Francis Pangilinan, Franklin Drilon, Paolo Benigno Aquino 4th, Leila de Lima, Risa Hontiveros and Antonio Trillanes IV, in their petition filed last May 16, asked the SC to invalidate the decision of the executive branch due to lack of necessary concurrence from the Senate.

The six senators cited Article VII Section 21 of the 1987 Constitution, which provides 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.”

“The executive initiates entry into a treaty or international agreement as the chief architect of foreign affairs. However, for such treaty or international agreement to be ‘valid and effective’ in the Philippines, the participation of Congress is necessary because such treaty or international agreement becomes a law in the Philippines,” the petition read.

 The SC was called on by the petitioners to mandate the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Philippine Permanent Mission to the United Nations to notify the United Nations secretary general that it was revoking the notice of withdrawal that it received on March 17, 2018.

 The “decision to withdraw is the Philippines’ principled stand against those who politicize and weaponize human rights, even as its independent and well-functioning organs and agencies continue to exercise jurisdiction over complaints, issues, problems and concerns arising from its efforts to protect the people.”

The senators also pointed out that the Rome Statute is a treaty validly entered into by the Philippines and that it has the same status as a law enacted by Congress. Its withdrawal would require the approval of Congress, they stressed.

“The executive cannot abrogate or repeal a law. In the same vein, the executive cannot unilaterally withdraw from a treaty or an international agreement because such withdrawal is equivalent to a repeal of a law,” they added.

They further said that in withdrawing Philippine membership from the ICC, the respondents committed usurpation of legislative powers — a move that is punishable under the Revised Penal Code. 

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