SolGen defends PH withdrawal from ICC in SC oral arguments

MANILASolicitor General Jose Calida on Tuesday sought the dismissal of the consolidated petition assailing the government's decision to withdraw its membership from the International Criminal Court (ICC).

During the oral arguments at the Supreme Court (SC), Calida reiterated that the withdrawal was within the president's powers under the Constitution.

The Solicitor General also argued that the SC cannot exercise its power of judicial review over the ICC withdrawal since the matter is a political decision of the executive branch.

"Under the doctrine of separation of powers that affords due respect for co-equal and coordinate branches of government, the Court must restrain itself from intruding into policy matters and allow a wide degree of discretion to the president in determining foreign policy," he explained.

Calida also pointed out that the ICC has officially accepted the Philippine government's withdrawal that will take effect on March 15, 2019 and this is already beyond the jurisdiction of the High Court.

Associate Justice Marvic Leonen agreed with Calida's claim, saying the Rome Statute allows withdrawal by a state from the treaty.

"Article 121 of the Rome Statute allows the state to withdraw. Withdrawal is not really a strange thing. In fact, it is discretionary on the state," he explained.

The magistrate also agreed with Calida that the SC has no jurisdiction over the acceptance or depository of the Philippine withdrawal by the United Nations Secretary General.

Leonen added that the judiciary should be cautious in interpreting the Constitution when it involves actions by political branches, particularly the executive and legislative.

The top state lawyer added that MalacaAang's move to withdraw from ICC membership under the Rome Statute was justified by the preliminary examination by the ICC on alleged extrajudicial killings in the country despite "existing and functioning mechanisms to investigate and prosecute cases of extrajudicial killings."

Calida also cited the absence of the legal standing of opposition senators Francis Pangilinan, Franklin Drilon, Leila de Lima, Bam Aquino, Antonio Trillanes IV, and Risa Hontiveros in going to the SC without first resolving the controversy within the Senate.

A Senate resolution that sought to invoke the Senate's concurrence to the withdrawal was not passed and has been shelved.

The six opposition senators and the Philippine Coalition for the International Criminal Court (PCICC), led by former Commission on Human Rights chair Loretta Rosales, filed the petition claiming among others that the withdrawal violates the constitutional requirement of concurrence of the Senate when the government deals with treaties and/or international agreements.

Calida argued the constitutional requirement applies only in ratification of new treaties and does not apply to withdrawal from treaties.

"This provision requires the concurrence of at least two-thirds of all members of the Senate to make a treaty or international agreement valid and effective, but not in the event of withdrawal from a treaty. The petitioners cannot read into the provision what is not there. There is no requirement for Senate concurrence in withdrawal from treaty," Calida told the court.

Upon the termination of the oral arguments, the SC directed the parties to submit their memoranda within a month. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency