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Palace insists: Only Executive can decide on foreign affairs

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By Argyll Cyrus Geducos

Malacañang reiterated that only the Executive Branch can act on matters on foreign affairs following the filing of a petition urging the Supreme Court (SC) to act on the Philippines’ withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made the statement after the Philippine Coalition for the International Criminal Court (PCICC), a non-government organization, urged the SC to void the government’s notice from the Rome Statute which created the ICC.

Presidential Spokesperson Atty. Harry Roque (YANCY LIM/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Presidential Spokesperson Atty. Harry Roque
(YANCY LIM/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

“This is not an issue that can be addressed by a certiorari. Hence, the courts must defer matters on foreign affairs to the Executive,” Roque said Wednesday.

“We reiterate that the President is the chief architect of the country’s foreign policy. The Constitution makes no mention that concurrence of the Senate is necessary to validate the Philippines’ withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC),” he added.

In its 51-page petition, the PCICC said the Executive branch needs Senate concurrence first before issuing the notice of withdrawal.

“Petitioners had been shut off a process that should take place in public deliberations that the Senate is supposed to undertake precisely on the question of abnegating our international obligations under the Rome Statute,” the petition read.

The group also said that President Duterte “gravely abused his discretion” in unilaterally withdrawing from the treaty signed in December 2000 and ratified in August 2011.

In Mid-March, President Duterte withdrew the Philippines membership to the ICC, saying the Court has been politicized and was launching attacks against his person. Malacañang said that the President is convinced that the ICC is part a concerted effort to indict him in a court of public opinion.

Duterte’s decision stemmed from the criticisms of some United Nations (UN) special rapporteurs on his drug war, and on ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s decision to conduct a preliminary examination on the killings.

Following Duterte’s announcement to withdraw the Philippines from the ICC, and plans to urge other countries to do the same, the ICC said that the Philippines is an important party to the Rome Statute and an integral part of the criminal justice system. But the Palace said the gesture is already too late. (Argyll Cyrus B. Geducos)

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