FILE PHOTO: An aerial view shows the Pagasa (Hope) Island, part of the disputed Spratly group of islands, in the South China Sea located off the coast of western Philippines July 20, 2011.
REUTERS/ROLEX DELA PENA/POOL
MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court has concluded the oral arguments on the petition questioning the validity of the country’s withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC).
It was the Executive Department’s turn to argue that there is no explicit constitutional provision that states Senate concurrence is required in treaty withdrawal.
Solicitor General Jose Calida explained that President Rodrigo Duterte did not violate the Constitution, but only exercised his power as the chief architect that crafts and implements foreign policy.
But Justice Antonio Carpio said the ICC treaty is the only legal deterrent that can protect the country from China’s abuses, specifically, the Kampala Amendment which activated the court’s jurisdiction on crimes of aggression.
“If China invades Pag-asa [Island] and puts up a naval base in Scarborough Shoal, we will not be able to sue President Xi Jin Ping and his military leaders because we have withdrawn already from the ICC, correct?
I mean we cannot take advantage of this legal defense anymore because we are withdrawing from the Rome Statute.
Calida suggested that there might be other international treaties that can be used, but Carpio insisted otherwise.
“This is the only treaty in the world that holds political and military leaders of a state that commits the crime of aggression,” Carpio said.
The Philippines withdrew from the treaty in March 2018 via note verbale sent to the United Nations amid the preliminary examinations on Duterte’s war on drugs by ICC prosecutor Fathou Bensouda.
But according to constitutional law professor Tony La Viña, whether or not the high court rules in favor of the president, investigations on his controversial drug war will continue.
“Kahit sabihin ng Supreme Court natin na valid ang pag withdraw ni Duterte di ba? For any case filed against him, for acts he committed noong member pa tayo, continue iyon. Ang consequence lang ng pagwithdraw natin sa ICC ay any acts committed after April or March, when it takes effect, is no longer covered,” La Viña said.
The petitions asking for the nullification of the withdrawal were filed by opposition senators and the Philippine Coalition for the International Criminal Court. — Mai Bermudez