Without ICC treaty, PHL can’t sue China if it invades Panatag, Scarborough — Carpio

admin   •   October 10, 2018   •   3620

FILE PHOTO: An aerial view shows the Pagasa (Hope) Island, part of the disputed Spratly group of islands, in the South China Sea located off the coast of western Philippines July 20, 2011.
REUTERS/ROLEX DELA PENA/POOL

MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court has concluded the oral arguments on the petition questioning the validity of the country’s withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC).

It was the Executive Department’s turn to argue that there is no explicit constitutional provision that states Senate concurrence is required in treaty withdrawal.

Solicitor General Jose Calida explained that President Rodrigo Duterte did not violate the Constitution, but only exercised his power as the chief architect that crafts and implements foreign policy.

But Justice Antonio Carpio said the ICC treaty is the only legal deterrent that can protect the country from China’s abuses, specifically, the Kampala Amendment which activated the court’s jurisdiction on crimes of aggression.

“If China invades Pag-asa [Island] and puts up a naval base in Scarborough Shoal, we will not be able to sue President Xi Jin Ping and his military leaders because we have withdrawn already from the ICC, correct?
I mean we cannot take advantage of this legal defense anymore because we are withdrawing from the Rome Statute.

Calida suggested that there might be other international treaties that can be used, but Carpio insisted otherwise.

“This is the only treaty in the world that holds political and military leaders of a state that commits the crime of aggression,” Carpio said.

The Philippines withdrew from the treaty in March 2018 via note verbale sent to the United Nations amid the preliminary examinations on Duterte’s war on drugs by ICC prosecutor Fathou Bensouda.

But according to constitutional law professor Tony La Viña, whether or not the high court rules in favor of the president, investigations on his controversial drug war will continue.

“Kahit sabihin ng Supreme Court natin na valid ang pag withdraw ni Duterte di ba? For any case filed against him, for acts he committed noong member pa tayo, continue iyon. Ang consequence lang ng pagwithdraw natin sa ICC ay any acts committed after April or March, when it takes effect, is no longer covered,” La Viña said.

The petitions asking for the nullification of the withdrawal were filed by opposition senators and the Philippine Coalition for the International Criminal Court. — Mai Bermudez

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.

Duterte, Xi call for ‘win-win’ cooperation on 46th anniversary of PH-China ties

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 10, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping both call for a “win-win” cooperation in commemoration of the 46th anniversary of Philippine-China relations.

The Philippine President expressed his gratitude for  China’s assistance to the Philippines in the face of challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Philippine-China economic ties are of course the dynamic force that will continue to drive or bilateral relations forward,” Duterte told Xi in a statement.

“I am confident that my Administration’s Build Build Build program together with the Belt and Road Initiative, will reap long-term benefits for our peoples,” he added.

Meanwhile, in a letter addressed to Duterte, the Chinese president acknowledged that in recent years, with concerted efforts of both sides, Philippine- China relations have remained “healthy and stable.”

“I attach great significance to the development of China-Philippines relations, and stand ready to work with you in guiding our bilateral relations to move forward in a sustained and steady manner, so as to achieve greater win-win results and mutual benefits,” Xi said. AAC

 

AFP chief Sobejana visits Pag-asa Island

Robie de Guzman   •   June 9, 2021

 

MANILA, Philippines — Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Cirilito Sobejana visited Pag-asa Island amid the territorial dispute between the Philippines and China over the West Philippine Sea.

In a statement, the AFP said Sobejana visited the island on Monday along with key officers from the General Headquarters and the Western Command.

The visit was in connection to the conversion of the island into a logistics hub that seeks to sustain the Philippine government forces deployed in the area.

The trip also aims to uplift the morale and welfare of troops securing Pag-asa Island and other communities within the Kalayaan Island Group.

“The AFP will strike a balance between mission accomplishments and looking after the morale and welfare of our men and women,” Sobejana said, addressing the military force manning the Naval Station Emilio Liwanag on Pag-asa Island.

The AFP chief also stressed the importance of the troop’s role in protecting the citizens of Kalayaan Group of Islands and their livelihood as well as guarding the country’s territories in the West Philippine Sea.

The AFP said it recently deployed additional air and naval assets under the operational control of Western Command (WESCOM) in Palawan to support the National Task Force-WPS together with the Philippine Coast Guard and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in performing sovereignty patrols in the area.

Prior to visiting Pag-asa Island, the Chief of Staff met with the troops of the 3rd Marine Brigade to extend the AFP’s commendation for keeping the Province of Palawan peaceful, stable and progressive.

He also lauded the unit’s contributions in security operations, civil military operations, stakeholder’s engagement and on COVID-19 mitigation which are vital in the over-all mission accomplishment of WESCOM and the AFP as a whole.

The AFP Chief also visited BRP Emilio Jacinto (PS35), one of the many ships currently deployed at WESCOM while docked at Puerto Princesa City Pier, to commend the their efforts in protecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country particularly in the West Philippine Sea.

He likewise lauded the officers and personnel for their role in the successful rescue of 31 fishermen of MB Pauline 2 at Nares Bank, WPS on May 24.

 

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