SC junks petition vs PH withdrawal from ICC

Aileen Cerrudo   •   March 16, 2021   •   473

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

DILG to discuss with LGUs, PNP parameters of Duterte’s new order to arrest mask violators

Marje Pelayo   •   May 6, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday (May 5) ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) to arrest people who are not wearing their face mask properly in public.

President Duterte made the order during his pre-recorded address after noting that some people mindlessly don a face mask just so they can comply with the protocol.

“Itong mask, ‘yung iba, for compliance lang. Naglalagay ng mask pero nakalabas ‘yung ilong. I-detain mo tapos imbestigahan mo siya kung bakit ganoon ang behavior,“ he told the PNP adding that he has to be strict to curb COVID-19 transmission.

“Kapag hindi ko higpitan, walang mangyayari. Iyan nga, for compliance lang kayo,” he added.

In an interview following Duterte’s announcement, DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said they still have to discuss the new directive with the PNP.

“I think the President was serious. We will have to sit down with the Philippine National Police [..] to determine the parameters of the presidential directive. And we have to reconcile this with the various ordinances that were issued by the LGUs,” Malaya noted.

“I must emphasize that what people are violating here are local ordinances that were issued by the local sanggunian. We will take a look on how we can implement this directive of the President,” he added.

As for the quarantine violations, Malaya stressed that the IATF resolution is implemented through ordinances passed by the local government units. The penalty for a specific violation would depend on each LGU.

“So we may have to talk with the LGUs and of course the Philippine National Police,” Malaya said.

Malaya emphasized that it is the responsibility of the local chief executives and barangay officials to implement all minimum health standards in their respective jurisdictions.

Duterte on retaking West Philippine Sea: ‘I never promised the people I would’

Marje Pelayo   •   May 4, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte recalled his conversation with President Xi Jinping regarding the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

According to Duterte he asked the communist leader to just let Filipinos fish in the West Philippine Sea.

“I told China, it’s yours according to you, I’ve heard several times. But you also have heard of the fact that people are hungry. Ang Pilipino ay gutom (Filipinos are hungry) and you are not oblivious to that fact. So kindly just allow our fishermen to fish in peace,” he said.

The President said he is ready to talk with China should conflict arise over the disputed territory.

“There’s no reason for trouble. If there is one brewing, you call our attention and we can talk immediately to solve the problem,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Chief Executive said he never made a campaign promise to retake the WPS.

“I never, never in my campaign as president, promised the people that I would retake the West Philippine Sea. I did not promise that I would pressure China,” he said. “I never mentioned about China and the Philippines in my campaign because that was a very serious matter.”

But President Duterte stressed that he is ready to fight for the country’s sovereignty and he will not order a retreat of Philippine vessels patrolling in the area.

Reacting to Duterte’s statement, retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio reminded the former of  his statement during the presidential campaign about riding on a jetski to Scarborough Shoal and hoisting the Philippine flag there.

He also said Duterte had issued a statement fully supporting the arbitration case against China.

Thus, Carpio said, President Duterte cannot say that he never mentioned the West Philippine Sea issue or he would be admitting that he was fooling millions of Filipinos which, the former justice said, is tantamount to “grand estafa”.

“President Duterte cannot now say that he never discussed or mentioned the West Philippine Sea issue when he was campaigning for President. Otherwise, he would be admitting that he was fooling the Filipino people big time. There is a term for that–grand estafa or grand larceny. Making a false promise to get 16 million votes,” Carpio said.

For Senator Panfilo Lacson, it is necessary to revisit the Philippines’ diplomatic relations with China.

“Maybe a review of the country’s diplomatic relations is timely and called for. All the diplomatic protests that the Secretary of Foreign Affairs filed have been ignored as if nothing was filed at all. The continued incursions and bullying finally got his goat,” he said. MNP (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)

Judges, court personnel hospitalized due to COVID-19 to get financial aid — Supreme Court

Robie de Guzman   •   April 28, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Judges and court personnel who contracted novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) will be provided with financial assistance from the Supreme Court, the Office of the Court Administrator said Wednesday.

In a circular issued by Court Administrator Midas Marquez, the cash assistance will range from P15,000 to P30,000 for those hospitalized depending on the severity of their illness.

Families of those who succumbed to death, whether hospitalized or not, will receive P50,000.

The financial assistance was approved by Supreme Court Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo with the concurrence of the members of the Court en banc.

“Considering that there are judges and court personnel of the first and second level courts who contracted COVID-19 while in the performance of their functions there is a need to help them defray the hospitalization expenses incurred in treating COVID-19 infection,” the circular read.

Potential recipients of the assistance are required to submit a copy of the positive result of the RT-PCR test from March 2020 onwards, a medical certificate stating the clinical findings of the illness caused by COVID-19, a death certificate indicating that the patient died of COVID-19 or its complications, disbursement voucher, and obligation request.

The SC Public Information Office said that some 1,113 judiciary personnel tested positive for COVID-19 with 20 fatalities.

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