Duterte still won’t cooperate with any ICC probe despite SC ruling

Published July 22, 2021, 3:53 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

President Duterte is still not keen on cooperating with any inquiry of the International Criminal Court (ICC) despite the latest Supreme Court ruling on the country’s pullout from the Rome Statue.

President Rodrigo Duterte (File photo/Malacañang)

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque maintained that the President could not be compelled to cooperate with the foreign tribunal.

“Unfortunately, the lack of enforcement mechanism cannot compel the Philippines to cooperate when the President has clearly said we will not do so,” Roque said during a televised press briefing Thursday, July 22.

The Supreme Court has reportedly ruled that the country was still obligated to cooperate with the processes initiated before the ICC despite its withdrawal from the treaty that established the Hague-based tribunal.

Back in 2018, Duterte ordered the pullout of the country’s membership from the Rome Statute due to alleged violations of due process, among others. The pullout came shortly after a preliminary inquiry was initiated into the alleged rights violations related to the Philippine government’s war on illegal drugs. The ICC pullout was made official in 2019.

“Even if it has deposited the instrument of withdrawal, it shall not be discharged from any criminal proceedings. Whatever process was already initiated before the International Criminal Court obliges the state party to cooperate,” the high court said in a decision.

The ruling was included in the SC decision junking a petition questioning the legality of President Duterte’s decision to withdraw the country’s membership from the Rome Statute without the concurrence of Senate. The high court ruled that the President enjoyed “much leeway” in withdrawing from an agreement if the country’s leader believes it violates an existing law or the Constitution.

Roque welcomed the latest court ruling recognizing the President as the primary architect of the country’s foreign policy. He said the court would not rule the petition against the ICC pullout was moot and academic if there was a violation of the law.

“Bilang chief architect ng foreign policy, hindi naman pupuwede limitahan ang option ng Presidente pagdating sa mga tratado na napirmahan na (As chief architect of foreign policy, the President’s options cannot be limited when it comes to signing treaties),” he said.

The President previously unleashed profanity-laced tirade against the ICC, insisting that not in a million years could the foreign tribunal acquire jurisdiction over him. Duterte said he would rather face charges before a court in the country than the “white people” in the foreign tribunal.

Duterte had argued that the Rome Statute, ratified by the Senate in 2011, was not enforceable in the country since it was not published in the Official Gazette, a legal requirement before a law takes effect.