MANILA – The Supreme Court (SC) was urged to issue a verdict on the petitions against the Philippines’ withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC) before it takes effect today.
The Philippine Coalition for the ICC (PCICC) in an urgent motion said the high court must issue its ruling to prevent the “unconstitutional” exit of the country from the ICC.
“Petitioners fear that with the withdrawal taking effect without this Honorable Court’s action, those who kill with impunity will only be further emboldened,” the PCCIC said in its motion.
The group added that the taking effect of withdrawal means Filipinos would lose “effective remedies” against any potential international crimes committed in the country starting Sunday “in the event that there is inaction by Philippine law enforcement authorities to investigate or prosecute impunity committed in the Philippines.”
The SC did not take action on the consolidated petitions assailing the constitutionality of the withdrawal during its en banc session last Sunday, the last one before the unprecedented President Rodrigo Duterte move becomes effective.
Duterte on March 17, 2018 declared the Philippines’ withdrawal from the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the ICC, due to “baseless, unprecedented and outrageous attacks” against him and his administration.
Duterte’s withdrawal was after the ICC announced a preliminary examination on alleged extrajudicial killings in the country. The preliminary examination will determine whether there is cause to go on a full-blown investigation.
The Rome Statute was created to “put an end to impunity for the perpetrators of these crimes and thus to contribute to the prevention of such crimes” and established the ICC the same day the treaty was entered into force on July 1, 2002.
Before the Philippines expressed their withdrawal, Burundi, Gambia, and South Africa have attempted to withdraw from the ICC. Gambia and South Africa later retracted their plan but Burundi went through with the proceedings and left the court on Oct. 27, 2017./PN