Minority senators ask SC to declare PH withdrawal from ICC invalid

Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 16 2018 04:53 PM | Updated as of May 16 2018 07:39 PM

MANILA (UPDATE) - Senators from the minority bloc asked the Supreme Court on Wednesday to declare the Philippines' withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC) "invalid or ineffective." 

Senators Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan, Franklin Drilon, Bam Aquino, Leila de Lima, Risa Hontiveros, and Antonio Trillanes IV said the withdrawal should be invalidated for lack of concurrence of Senate by a two-thirds vote.

The pleading was filed through a 17-page petition for certiorari on Wednesday.

"The Executive cannot abrogate or repeal a law. In the same vein, the Executive cannot unilaterally withdraw from a treaty or international agreement because such withdrawal is tantamount to a repeal of a law," the senators said.

The lawmakers argued that the Executive Department cannot repeal a law, and cannot withdraw from a treaty or international agreement because this is "equivalent to a repeal of a law." 

“As a law, the withdrawal from the Rome Statute requires the participation of Congress,” the petition stated, highlighting Section 21, Article VII of the Constitution which provides: “No treaty or international agreement shall be valid and effective unless concurred in by at least two-thirds of all the Members of the Senate.”

In March, President Rodrigo Duterte announced the Philippines' move to withdraw from the ICC.

Duterte ordered the country’s withdrawal from the ICC after the latter announced in February that it would begin its preliminary examination into the communication filed by lawyer Jude Sabio accusing the President of "repeatedly, unchangingly, and continuously" committing mass murder. 

The lawmakers further argued that Malacañang cannot invoke the president’s "residual powers" in withdrawing from the ICC because these powers may only be invoked “when there is no clear constitutional principle involved.”

“Under the Constitution, it is only Congress that can repeal a law… Under the Constitution, the Executive’s function is to implement or execute existing laws, even those which he or she does not agree with,” the petition stated.

The ICC, which has jurisdiction over 124 of its members, including the Philippines, was created through the 1988 UN statute.

The Philippines signed the Rome Statute on December 28, 2000 and ratified and endorsed it in August 2011, during the time of Duterte’s predecessor, then-President Benigno Aquino III.