Palace: Duterte gov’t still won’t cooperate with ICC probe
MANILA, Philippines — The Duterte government will still not cooperate with any probe to be conducted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) despite a ruling by the Supreme Court stating that the Philippines remains obliged to cooperate even after withdrawing from the Rome Statute, Malacañang said Thursday.
The Supreme Court said the President has no “sole authority” to withdraw from treaties, but proceeded to dismiss the petitions questioning it since the “Philippines completed the requisite acts of withdrawal.”
“In sum, at no point, and under no circumstances does the President enjoy unbridled authority to withdraw from treaties or international agreements,” the High Court said.
For presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, the SC’s remark that the President cannot invoke the Philippines’ withdrawal from the ICC to avoid investigation “does not have jurisprudential value.”
“That’s obiter dictum. In law, there’s the main issue that has to be resolved. And the main issue was, is Senate concurrence required sa pagbitiw sa ICC? Because in becoming a member of the ICC, the Senate concurred. And the main decision was no,” Roque said in an online press briefing.
“An obiter dicta does not really have jurisprudential value. It is on the side, it is not on the merits, it is not the main ruling of the court. And we are not in any way concerned about the obiter. That’s the nature of obiters,” he added.
Roque was referring to the petition filed by opposition senators asking the High Court to declare the country’s withdrawal from ICC as invalid, arguing that the President should have first sought the Senate’s concurrence.
The Court dismissed the petition for being moot because the Philippines’s withdrawal was already accepted and acknowledged when it was filed.
Pressed if Malacañang will still not cooperate with the recent ICC probe on the war on drugs, Roque said: “Unfortunately, the lack of enforcement mechanism cannot compel the Philippines to cooperate when the President has clearly said we will not do so.”
“So no change. Because that’s obiter and petition dismissed. Yun ang importante in analyzing the effect of a decision. Na-grant ba o na-dismiss? Ang gusto nila, mabalewala yung withdrawal. Hindi po nabalewala. So it is dismissed, panalo po ang gobyerno,” he went on.
Since the petitions were declared moot, Roque claimed the court “virtually said” the Senate’s concurrence is not needed in withdrawing from treaties or international agreements.
“Hindi naman boboto ang korte na moot and academic kung iniisip nila na merong nalabag na proseso sa ating Saligang Batas. By ruling that it is moot, the court virtually said hindi kinakailangan ang concurrence ng Senado,” Roque said.
(The court will not vote for moot and academic if they think there’s something violated in our Constitution. By ruling that it is moot, the court virtually said there is no need for the concurrence of the Senate.)
It was in February 2018 when the ICC launched a preliminary examination on Duterte’s alleged human rights violations linked to his bloody campaign against illegal drugs.
A month after, Duterte declared that the Philippines was withdrawing from the ICC. Even so, the ICC maintained it will continue assessing the complaints against Duterte as it still had jurisdiction over the case which was filed prior to the country’s withdrawal.
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