De Lima: SC decision on ICC probe a reminder of Duterte's grave sins to humanity

Published July 23, 2021, 1:02 PM

by Mario Casayuran

Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima on Friday July 23 welcomed the recent Supreme Court (SC) decision that President Duterte cannot evade the International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation for his crimes against humanity and terminate the treaty on his own.

De Lima, one of the staunchest critic of government’s drug war, said the decision of the SC on the unilateral withdrawal of Duterte from the Rome Statute “is yet another reminder of how Duterte abused the Office of the President by bending our foreign policy, albeit unsuccessfully, solely for his personal benefit.”

De Lima said she takes comfort in the fact that the High Court echoed the pronouncement of former ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda when it declared that the country’s withdrawal from the Rome Statute did not operate to discharge the Philippines from obligations incurred while the country was still a state party.

Recently, the High Tribunal ruled that Duterte could not invoke the Philippines’ withdrawal from the Rome Statute to evade the investigation by the prosecutor of the ICC of charges that he committed against humanity in the killings of thousands in his brutal drug war.

Voting unanimously, the 15-member tribunal also held that Duterte could not arbitrarily terminate international agreements without the concurrence of the Senate.

De Lima noted that despite the SC ruling, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque dismissed the High Court’s remarks asobiter dictum, or a reflection or an opinion made by a justice that does not set a precedent, or is not necessarily legally binding.

The lady Senator from Bicol reminded the Duterte administration that the High Court’s decision meant that the Rome Statute was in full effect prior to Duterte’s withdrawal, which she said “means that Duterte’s two-bit theory that the Rome Statute was ineffectual due to lack of publication does not hold water.”

“Duterte should stop playing politics, exhibiting pathetic defiance, and instead start consulting with his lawyers and face the charges against him,’’ she said.

It may be recalled that De Lima filed a communication to the ICC in October 2017 to complement the allegations made by the late lawyer Jude Sabio, and former lawmakers Antonio Trillanes and Gary Alejano against Duterte.

The communication included statements of self-confessed hitman Edgar Matobato and retired police officer Arturo Lascañas, that they killed people in Davao City upon the orders of then Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

Trillanes and Alejano, meanwhile, said thousands more were killed in the war on drugs since Duterte became president in 2016.

 
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