By Ben Rosario
TACLOBAN CITY – The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the country’s own judiciary are capable of taking over the role of the International Criminal Courts in putting before the bar of justice governments committing grave human rights abuses.
This was stressed at the sidelines of the Hugpong ng Pagbabago campaign sortie here by top lawyers included in the HNP senatorial lineup.
Re-electionist Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III and former presidential political adviser Francis Tolentino backed President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to withdraw the country from the ICC.
“Meron naman tayo husgado, functioning naman ang RTC, courts natin at ng Supreme Court,” Tolentino said when asked by the media as to which body will now take the place of ICC in ensuring respect for human rights in the country.(We have the courts, the RTC the SC are still functioning.)
“Alam ko may ASEAN Human Rights Court, iyon lang ang nag-aallow na private citizens ang mag file ng case against violators,”
Tolentino, an international lawyer, stressed. (I know there is an ASEAN Human rights Court, it allows private citizens to file case against violators)
Tolentino noted that only 30 percent of the nations in the world are ICC members, leaving 70 percent, including Russia, China, United States of America and Singapore, non-members.
Asked by the media to react to Duterte’s decision to drop out of the ICC, Pimentel said he believes the issue is “not a bid deal”
“The decision has been made. Let’s respect the decision,” said Pimentel.
The former Senate president said withdrawing from the ICC no longer required the concurrence of senators.
“In my opinion the Senate concurrence is only necessary in joining the treaty. But withdrawing from the treaty is already provided in the treaty which was already approved by the Senate,” stressed Pimentel.
Meanwhile, Magdalo senatorial candidate Gary Alejano contradicted the positions taken by the HNP bets.
Alejano, a member of the opposition Otso Diretso team, said Duterte’s decision “has wide and long-term implications and consequences.”
“From a domestic point of view, the withdrawal from the ICC will embolden our leaders to commit further human rights violations,” said the opposition congressman.
Alejano reminded the Duterte administraiton that there was a pending petition before the Supreme Court, questioning the legality of the president’s decision to withdraw from the ICC.
“From an international perspective, President’s idea to withdraw signifies an act that goes against universal values other countries have adopted and fostered,” said the lawmaker.