By Rey Panaligan
The Supreme Court (SC) has required Solicitor General Jose C. Calida to comment on the motion of detained Sen. Leila de Lima who wanted to argue personally the case she and five other senators filed against the alleged unconstitutionality of President Duterte’s notice of withdrawal of the Philippines’ membership in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
In a resolution, Calida was given five days from receipt of notice to file his comment.
With the new development, the SC reset the oral arguments on the two consolidated petitions from August 7 to August 14 starting at 2 p.m.
In a manifestation with motion, De Lima implored previous SC rulings which allowed a lawmaker to participate in oral arguments.
“This Honorable Court is respectfully asked to take judicial notice of its practice of permitting members of Congress to appear before it and argue their cases,” De
Lima, who is currently detained at the custodial center of the Philippine National Police in Quezon City on drugs charges, said.
Two petitions have been filed with the SC in connection with the notice of withdrawal from ICC.
Aside from the case filed by the six senators, the other petition was lodged by the Philippine Coalition for the International Criminal Court (PCICC) led by former Commission on Human Rights chair Loretta Rosales.
Both petitions have been consolidated by the SC which set oral arguments on August 7.
On March 14, 2018, the President announced the Philippines’ withdrawal from the ICC citing “baseless, unprecedented and outrageous attacks” against him and his administration.
The President defended his decision to take back the Philippines’ ratification of the Rome Statute as he noted that the treaty is not a law since it was not published in the Official Gazette when the Philippines ratified it in August 2011.
Earlier, the Philippine government – in a diplomatic note to the United Nations Secretary General – said “the decision to withdraw is the Philippines’ principled stand against those who politicize and weaponize human rights, even as its independent and well-functioning organs and agencies continue to exercise jurisdiction over complaints, issues, problems and concerns arising from its efforts to protect the people.”
Aside from De Lima, the other petitioners in the first case are Senators Francis Pangilinan, Franklin Drilon, Paolo Benigno Aquino, Risa Hontiveros, and Antonio Trillanes IV.
They said the President’s withdrawal from the ICC is invalid as it has no concurrence from at least two-thirds of the 24-member Senate.
They wanted the SC to compel the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Philippine Permanent Mission to the United Nations to notify the United Nations Secretary-General of the revocation of the notice of withdrawal from the ICC it received on March 17, 2018.
They said the Rome Statute ICC was validly entered into by the Philippine government and has the same status as a law enacted by Congress and, thus, the withdrawal must be approved by Congress.
The PCICC’s petition, on the other hand, told the SC:
“The President gravely abused his discretion in an act tantamount to an absence or a lack of jurisdiction, when he unilaterally decided to withdraw the membership of the Philippines from the International Criminal Court, as his act violated the Constitutional system of checks and balances in treaty making under Art. VII, Sec. 21 of the 1987 Charter, which prescribes a shared duty towards that end between the Executive and the Legislative branches of government,” PCICC’s petition stated.