Panelo sorry for hurting Miriam kin but…

Robie de Guzman   •   March 27, 2019   •   2022

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo

MANILA, Philippines – Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Tuesday apologized to the sister of the late Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago for his remark that the latter’s election as International Criminal Court (ICC) Judge was void.

In a press briefing at the Malacañang, Panelo apologized for hurting her feelings. However, he stood by his earlier position that the late Senator’s election to the ICC was void as the Philippines was never under the tribunal’s jurisdiction.

On Monday, Defensor-Santiago’s sister, Dr. Linn Defensor-Evangelista slammed Panelo’s statement, saying it is “deeply disturbing when politics enters the realm of a person’s life and personal achievement.”

She also denounced the spokesman’s words as “immoral and extremely disrespectful” considering that her sister is no longer around to defend herself.

“To say that the Philippine membership in the ICC is not valid and that Miriam was not a valid ICC judge is irresponsible, offensive and full of malice,” she added.

Santiago was elected as ICC judge in 2011 but gave up the post due to health condition. She passed away in 2016.

Evangelista also called on Panelo to apologize and withdraw such statement.

“I am beyond upset; this is a cowardly attack and an evil attempt to undermine that which is true. I have been a close witness to Miriam’s hard work and dedication,” she said.

“Despite her encyclopedic knowledge of constitutional and international law, she continued to learn and affirm her knowledge by constant learning- waking up really early or staying up all night to read books, documents, opinions and intelligent discourse,” she added.

But Panelo said his earlier statement was only misunderstood, stressing that he is an admirer and a friend of the late senator.

“I’m apologizing for hurting her but I think the concern and the hurt is misplaced. I am an admirer and a friend of the late Miriam Defensor Santiago,” he said.

Panelo stood firm that the Rome Statute, which created the ICC, was never formally enforced in the country as it was not published on a newspaper or the Official Gazette, as required for it to become a law.

“What I said if the theory is that we were never under the jurisdiction of the ICC, it goes without saying, that’s the logic, any appointment to international court would be void,” he added.

Panelo said Santiago’s appointment was only seen as valid then because of the perception that the Philippines was under the ICC.

He added that Santiago was very much qualified to be a justice because she had the credentials.

“But the problem is, prior to the assumption of the president, nobody knew that we were never under the jurisdiction of the ICC. Everybody took for granted that we signed a treaty that we were under the jurisdiction of the ICC,” he said.

The country formally withdrew from the tribunal on March 17, a year after President Rodrigo Duterte announced his decision in response to ICC’s move to launch a preliminary examination on alleged abuses under his campaign against illegal drugs. – Robie de Guzman

Duterte gov’t says ICC probe on PH drug war ‘legally erroneous, politically-motivated’

Robie de Guzman   •   June 15, 2021


MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte will never cooperate with any possible investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC) into the alleged killings attributed to his administration’s war against drugs, Malacañang said on Tuesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the ICC’s decision to move forward into a formal investigation is “legally erroneous” and “politically-motivated.”

“Hinding-hindi magko-cooperate ang Presidente hanggang matapos ng kanyang termino sa June 30, 2022,” he said in a press briefing.

“Hindi po natin alam kung ano ang magiging polisiya after 2022. ‘Yan po ay bibigyan ng kasagutan kung sino man ang susunod na president ng Pilipinas.

Roque issued the statement after outgoing ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said Monday she has asked the court for authorization to formally conduct a full investigation into the Philippines’ drug war.

Bensouda said there is a reasonable basis to believe that murder has been committed in the Philippines between July 1, 2016 and March 16, 2019 in the context of the state policy.

But Roque, a lawyer and the only Filipino member of the ICC’s list of counsels, said the decision to conduct formal investigation is “legally erroneous because in the first place, the ICC has no jurisdiction over the subject matter of crimes against humanity as alleged in her information against President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.”

He also said that the police did not systematically attack civilians in the drug war as the killings during the campaign were “coincidental or collateral damage either because the policeman had the right to defend to himself using reasonable force or they were in fact the subject of an attack and therefore justified by the principle of necessity and proportionality.”

The presidential spokesman also said that the case, even for purposes of formal investigation, is “barred by the principle of complementarity” and the investigation is “not pursuant or in aid of substantial justice.”

“Ang sinasabi po ng prinsipyo ng complementarity, the ICC will not exercise jurisdiction unless the member-state is unable or unwilling to prosecute,” he explained.

“Kapag sinabi pong unable, ibig sabihin, walang estado, walang hukuman, walang pulis na gumagana, it is a failed state. Ang unwilling po is when you have legislation according impunity to an individual, wala po tayong ganyan sa Pilipinas,” he added.

He also underscored that cases in the course of a police operation are being investigated and that the country does not need foreigners to probe the incidents because the Philippines’ legal system still works.

“Hindi po natin kinakailangan ang mga dayuhang mag-iimbestiga ng mga patayan sa drug war dahil gumagana po ang sistemang ligal sa Pilipinas. Mayroong mga piskal at hukumang nagparusa na,” Roque said.

The Palace official also believes that the complaint was politically motivated as it was filed by someone who now wants to seek a higher position in the next elections. He did not mention any names but former Senator Antonio Trillanes was believed to be behind the move.

He also claimed that Bensouda made the decision as she supposedly wants to deflect criticism that only investigates cases involving Africa.

“Politika rin ang dahilan kung bakit si Prosecutor Bensouda ay nagsampa dahil ang puna sa kanya ang kinakasuhan lang ninya ay mga kapwa Aprikano niya. Kinakailangan niyang magkaso ng hindi Aprikano, para patunayan na kaya lang niyang magsampa sa mga kapwa Aprikano niya,” Roque said.

Under ICC statute, a prosecutor must seek authorization from the pre-trial chamber if there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation.

In March 2019, the Philippines effectively withdrew from the Rome Statute after Duterte cancelled the country’s membership of the ICC’s founding treaty.

Under the ICC’s withdrawal mechanism, the court retains jurisdiction over crimes committed during the membership period of a state.

The ICC’s preliminary examination on the situation in the Philippines started in February 2018, covering the period of Duterte’s first day in office in July 2016 up to the time of the country’s withdrawal form the Rome Statute.

SC ruling on ICC plea recognized limits of president’s power on foreign policy – Drilon

Robie de Guzman   •   March 17, 2021


Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon

MANILA, Philippines – The recent ruling of the Supreme Court on the petition against the Philippines’ withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC) showed that there are limitations to the president’s power with respect to foreign policy, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said on Wednesday.

Drilon issued the remark after the SC dismissed the petition questioning the validity of President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to pull out from the ICC.

“While the Supreme Court dismissed the petition questioning the validity of the Philippine government’s withdrawal from the Rome Statute for being moot and academic, the High Court acknowledged the limitations on the power of the President as the chief architect of foreign policy,” the senator said in a statement.

Drilon was among those who filed the petition along with other current and former senators Francis Pangilinan, Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, Leila de Lima, Risa Hontiveros, and Antonio Trillanes IV.

The SC, in a press statement on Tuesday, said the magistrates voted unanimously to dismiss the petition for being moot and academic.

The Philippines formally withdrew from the Rome of Statue, which established the ICC, in March 2019.

“The decision acknowledged that the President, as the primary architect of foreign policy, is subject to the Constitution and existing statutes,” the SC Public Information Office said.

“Therefore, the power of the President to withdraw unilaterally can be limited by the conditions for concurrence by the Senate or when there is an existing law which authorizes the negotiation of a treaty or international agreement or when there is a statute that implements an existing treaty,” it added.

For Drilon, the high court’s decision is “a clear recognition of the limitations of the power of the President with respect to foreign policy.”

“Most striking is the acknowledgment that the power of the President to withdraw ‘unilaterally’ can be subject to limitations by the Senate,” he said.

“It is a highly interesting decision and I will await the full text before I comment more extensively,” he added.

Malacañang earlier welcomed the SC decision.

Duterte ordered the country’s withdrawal from the ICC after it opened a preliminary examination on the ongoing drug war in the Philippines following reports of extrajudicial killings during police anti-narcotics operations.

SC junks petition vs PH withdrawal from ICC

Aileen Cerrudo   •   March 16, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday (March 16) unanimously junked petitions against the Philippines ‘ withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The high court said the issue of the country’s withdrawal from the ICC  has been considered moot as the withdrawal has already taken effect on March 17, 2019.

“In a unanimous decision penned by Associate Justice Marvic M.V.F. Leonen, the Supreme Court dismissed the Petition questioning the unilateral withdrawal for being moot and academic,” the SC said in a briefer released on Tuesday (March 16).

The statement released by the SC public information office says the decision acknowledged that the President, as the primary architect of foreign policy, is subject to the Constitution and existing statute.

Therefore, the power of the President to withdraw unilaterally can be limited by the conditions for concurrence by the Senate or when there is an existing law that authorizes the negotiation of a treaty or international agreement or when there is a statute that implements an existing treaty,” it added.

Two petitions were filed against President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to withdraw from the ICC, stating the decision still requires concurrence from two-thirds of the members of the Senate.

“The Court also noted that the judiciary has enough powers to protect human rights contrary to speculations raised by the petitioners,” the briefer reads.

Duterte made the announcement in March 2018, after the ICC announced it will conduct a preliminary investigation on the government’s war on drugs. -AAC


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