It’s time for ICC to stop interfering: Panelo

By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos

March 16, 2021, 6:04 pm

<p>Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo <em>(File photo)</em></p>

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo (File photo)

(EDITORS NOTE: This corrects the date of the creation of the International Criminal Court. It should read July 17, 1998, as the date of its adoption, and was entered into force on July 1, 2002, not November 1, 2011, as earlier reported in this article. Apologies -- The Editors )
MANILA (Updated) – The International Criminal Court (ICC) should now refrain from meddling in the Philippines’ affairs following the Supreme Court’s (SC) move to junk petitions challenging the country’s withdrawal from the international tribunal body, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said Tuesday.

Panelo issued the statement, as he welcomed the SC ruling, which affirms the validity of President Rodrigo Duterte’s earlier decision to leave ICC.

“We, therefore, reiterate our calls to the officials of the ICC to stop their futile endeavors apropos the internal affairs of our country. They should be enlightened by Article 127 of the Rome Statute that their preliminary examination, not being considered as a criminal investigation or court proceeding, has neither basis in fact nor in law to proceed,” he said.

The SC on Tuesday dismissed the petitions filed against Duterte’s decision to pull out of ICC sans the Senate’s concurrence. The high court turned down the pleas for being moot and academic.

Panelo said the SC’s decision validates Duterte’s exclusive power to withdraw the Philippines’ membership from ICC.

He said the ruling “effectively upholds the validity and force of the withdrawal without the concurrence of the Senate”.

“The decision puts to rest the debate on the authority of the President to withdraw from treaties and international agreements. As we have repeatedly articulated in many fora, such exercise is the sole prerogative vested by law upon the President as head of state and as the chief architect of our country's foreign policy,” Panelo said.

On May 16, 2018, then senators Antonio Trillanes IV and Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, as well as incumbent opposition Senators Leila de Lima, Risa Hontiveros, Francis Pangilinan, and Franklin Drilon questioned the ICC withdrawal before the SC, arguing that it cannot be done without the Senate’s concurrence.

Another petition was filed on June 13, 2018, by the Philippine Coalition for the ICC, claiming the withdrawal was based on “capricious, whimsical, ridiculous, misleading or misled, incoherent and/or patently false grounds, with no basis in fact, law or jurisprudence.”

Panelo said some members of the Senate who remain confused should now be enlightened that their participation in treaties or similar instruments is “limited to their concurrence for ratification, and not for any other undertaking”.

“The decision however for practicality is of no consequence to the earlier posture of our country that the ICC never acquired jurisdiction over us. As the President said, the ICC has no jurisdiction over the Philippines, nor any of its state officials, given that the Rome Statute was not published in accordance with the demands of due process and the right to information,” he said.

Panelo reminded the international community that they have no right to intervene in the Philippines’ affairs.

“It is about time for foreign elements not to meddle in the affairs of our state and unchain their imperialist assault on our sovereignty, even as the citizens of this country assert our independence against external forces that seek to trample upon our fundamental sovereign rights institutions,” he said.
Stop wasting time

Malacañang urged the ICC to stop wasting its time and resources by looking into alleged human rights violations in the country.

In a press statement, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque welcomed the 15-member high court’s decision.

“We welcome the latest Supreme Court decision dismissing the petition which questioned the President’s unilateral withdrawal from the International Criminal Court,” Roque said. “The latest high court ruling, which is decided on mootness, acknowledges that the President is indeed the chief architect of this country’s foreign policy.”

Roque, who insisted that the Philippines does not recognize the ICC’s jurisdiction over the country, also urged the international tribunal body to keep out of the country’s affairs.

“Having said this, we call on the ICC not to waste time and resources on investigations that will not prosper as we do not recognize ICC jurisdiction over the Philippines, as well as in the face of uncontroverted proof that domestic legal and judicial processes are functioning normally in our country,” he said. 
The Philippines was officially out of ICC on March 17, 2019, or exactly a year after Duterte revoked the Rome Statute, a treaty that created the ICC.
The creation of the ICC was adopted at a diplomatic conference in Rome, Italy on July 17, 1998, and it was entered into force on July 1, 2002.

The country cut ties with the ICC following its threat to investigate the alleged extrajudicial killings in the country. (with reports from Azer Parrocha/PNA)