SC urged to allow De Lima to join debates on Philippines' ICC withdrawal

Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 26 2018 12:41 PM

MANILA - Some minority senators are urging the Supreme Court to allow detained Senator Leila De Lima to join oral arguments on the bid to nullify the country's withdrawal from the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

In a 4-page motion filed on Tuesday, Senators Francis Pangilinan, Franklin Drilon, Bam Aquino, Risa Hontiveros, and Antonio Trillanes IV said their arguments “will be best presented before the high court by De Lima.

"Undersigned manifesting senators hope that this view of the members of a co-equal branch of government as to who they think will best present and argue this case will be given full consideration and accommodation by this Honorable Court," the motion read.

The minority senators insisted that De Lima's incarceration over illegal drug allegations should not prevent her from personally arguing the case because the subject matter involves “difficult and complicated questions.” 

President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the withdrawal from the treaty following the ICC's announcement that it would begin a preliminary examination into charges of mass murder against him in connection with his war on drugs. 

The charges were filed by Jude Sabio, lawyer of confessed "Davao Death Squad" hitman Edgar Matobato.

The senators in their petition accused Malacañang and the Department of Foreign Affairs of grave abuse of discretion, insisting that withdrawing from the Rome Statute requires the participation of Congress.

A separate similar petition was also filed by the Philippine Coalition for the International Criminal Court, a group composed of individuals and corporate entities that took part in the campaign for the Philippines’ inclusion as a state party to the ICC.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court also released the guidelines for the oral arguments, limiting petitioner senators and Malacañang’s arguments to specific issues.

Among the issues to be tackled will be the validity of the Palace's unilateral withdrawal from the treaty, the validity of a withdrawal through a note verbale; and whether or not pulling out from the treaty demands the concurrence of at least two-thirds of all the members of the Senate.