2 senators welcome SC ruling on PH’s cooperation with ICC probe
MANILA, Philippines — At least two senators welcomed a Supreme Court ruling stating that the Philippines remains obligated to cooperate with any investigation of the International Criminal Court (ICC) despite its withdrawal from the Rome Statute.
“I have some bad news for human rights violators in the country: They are not off the hook. They have nothing to celebrate. Sooner or later, they will have to face justice for the heinous acts they have committed against the Filipino people,” Senator Risa Hontiveros said in a statement Thursday.
For Senator Francis Pangilinan, he sees that this is “a step in the right direction toward attaining government accountability and substantial justice.”
The Supreme Court ruling, which was fully released Wednesday, was in connection with the petitions filed by opposition senators led by Pangilinan and two other groups questioning Duterte’s move to withdraw from the Rome Statute, which established the ICC.
The Supreme Court ruled that the President has no “sole authority” to withdraw from treaties. However, it proceeded to dismiss the petitions questioning it since the “Philippines completed the requisite acts of withdrawal.”
Pangilinan said that they are “seriously” looking at their options, including the filing of a motion for reconsideration on the court’s dismissal of their petition.
“While we have yet to receive an official copy, we are reading the 106-page Decision as published at the SC website yesterday 21 July 2021, and we are seriously considering our options, including that of filing a motion for reconsideration at the proper time,” he said.
Meanwhile, Hontiveros said she respects the decision of the Supreme Court and pointed out that it still “acknowledged that the president’s power of withdrawal from treaties is not without limitation.”
“The Supreme Court has also pointed out that safeguards for human rights and protections against offenses addressed by the Rome Statute remain in place in the country, and that the withdrawal from the Rome Statute will not affect the liabilities of those charged before the International Criminal Court (ICC) for acts committed up to the date of withdrawal,” Hontiveros also said.
“In fact, the Supreme Court ruled that withdrawal from the Rome statute will not affect the duty of the Philippine government to cooperate with the ICC in all criminal investigations and proceedings commenced prior to the withdrawal,” she added.
This means the country’s withdrawal will not “negate any liability for the alleged summary killings and other abuses committed in the course of the so-called War on Drugs,” Hontiveros further noted.
It was in February 2018 when the ICC launched a preliminary examination on Duterte’s alleged human rights violations linked to his bloody drug war.
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.
In June this year, judicial authorization to proceed with an investigation of the crimes against humanity case filed against Duterte was formally requested.
Despite the Supreme Court’s ruling, Malacañang said the Duterte administration will still not cooperate with any ICC investigation.
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