SolGen says no need for judicial review of ICC withdrawal


Posted at Oct 09 2018 03:54 PM

FILE PHOTO: The entrance of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is seen in The Hague, Netherlands. Jerry Lampen, Reuters

MANILA -- The Philippines withdrawal from the International Criminal Court is a political issue that does not need judicial review, Solicitor General Jose Calida said Tuesday.

Calida told the Supreme Court that the decision to withdraw the country's membership from the ICC is part of the President's functions as chief architect of foreign policy, and not a case for the courts to review.

"In withdrawing from the Rome Statute, the President was implementing foreign policy which is one of the principal functions of his office," he said during the resumption of oral arguments on petitions challenging the Philippines' exit from the ICC.

President Rodrigo Duterte in March pulled Manila from the Rome Statute that created the ICC after the tribunal announced it would initiate a preliminary examination of alleged crimes against humanity under his war on drugs.

Senators Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan, Franklin Drilon, Bam Aquino, Risa Hontiveros, Leila de Lima, and Antonio Trillanes IV, however, asked the top court to declare Duterte's move invalid for lack of concurrence of the Senate by a two-thirds vote.

"It cannot be automatically implied that just because treaty withdrawal involves foreign relations, it is solely an executive prerogative," Barry Gutierrez, legal counsel of the senators, previously told the top court.

"The reasons for withdrawal mentioned by the President, however, can be easily construed as purely personal to him," he added.

Calida, however, said the Constitution does not explicitly require the Senate's concurrence in withdrawing the country’s ratification of the Rome Statute since the chamber's power is limited only to giving its "consent." 

"The executive alone, to the exclusion of others, has the right and duty to conduct foreign relations free from any encroachment and interference from any other branch of government," he said.

Calida also argued that the high court cannot just order the executive to revoke the withdrawal from the ICC given that the United Nations has already recognized Manila's exit.

"The court cannot venture into the realm of the executive branch by forcing the respondents to take back the Philippine withdrawal from the Rome Statute," he said.

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