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Palace downplays petition vs PH withdrawal from world criminal court

MALACANANG on Wednesday downplayed a petition filed by a non-government organization (NGO) asking the Supreme Court (SC) to void the Philippine’s notice of withdrawal from a United Nations treaty that created the International Criminal Court (ICC).

In a statement, Palace spokesman Harry Roque insisted that there was no need for President Rodrigo Duterte to consult with the Senate on his government’s decision to withdraw from the Rome Statute.

“We reiterate that the President is the chief architect of the country’s foreign policy. The Constitution makes no mention that concurrence of the Senate is necessary to validate the Philippines’ withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC),” Roque said.

“Again, this is not an issue that can be addressed by a certiorari. Hence, the courts must defer matters on foreign affairs to the Executive,” he said.

Roque made the statement after the Philippine Coalition for the International Criminal Court on Wednesday asked the Supreme Court to declare as void from the beginning the country’s withdrawal from the ICC.

“Petitioners had been shut off a process that should take place in public deliberations that the Senate is supposed to undertake precisely on the question of abnegating our international obligations under the Rome Statute,” according to the petition.

This pleading followed that of six opposition senators who asked the high tribunal to proclaim as “invalid and ineffective” Duterte’s announced withdrawal from the Rome Statute with the concurrence of at least 2/3 of the Senate.

The high court set the senators’ petition for certiorari and mandamus for oral arguments on July 24.

In its petition, the coalition argued that Duterte gravely abused his discretion and violated the constitutional system of checks and balances by unilaterally deciding to withdraw the Philippines’ membership from the ICC, whose establishing treaty was ratified by the Senate in 2011.

Duterte ordered the Philippines’ withdrawal from the Rome Statute after the ICC announced in February that it would begin its preliminary examination into charges of mass murder against him in connection with his controversial war on drugs.

The President said the ICC’s “politicized” nature has prompted him to withdraw the country from the statute.

He also cited the supposed failure of the previous government to publish the treaty in the Official Gazette or newspaper of general circulation as reason why it is “not effective nor enforceable” in the Philippines.

Duterte, known for his tough language, previously said he was ready to face the ICC and answer all the allegations against him.

He even said, albeit in jest, that he was willing to be executed through a firing squad if proven guilty.

Later, the President said the ICC could never have jurisdiction over him.

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