The International Criminal Court (ICC) is holding a long-drawn process on the complaint against President Rody Duterte, and his detractors are hoping to capitalize on such lengthy period for propaganda mileage in the ultimate goal of ousting the popular leader.
The “crime against humanity” plea with the ICC was filed by Rody’s chief critics, lawyer Jude Sabio, Magdalo Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and Rep. Gary Alejano.
Proof that his foes intend to squeeze political juice out of the ICC filing was the yellow senators’ petition with the Supreme Court for detained Sen. Leila de Lima to argue the plea to invalidate Rody’s order for the Philippines’ withdrawal from the Rome Statute that created the ICC.
De Lima, who is detained for serious drug trafficking charges, was named as lead counsel of the senators in the SC petition.
Last March 15, the government notified the UN secretary general that the Philippines was withdrawing from the Rome Statute, which it ratified in 2011.
The SC has consolidated two petitions seeking to void the Philippine government’s withdrawal from the Rome Statute and had set oral arguments on August 7.
One petition was filed by opposition Senators Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, Franklin Drilon, Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino, de Lima, Risa Hontiveros and Trillanes, while the other was filed by a group that campaigned for the country’s accession to the statute.
The minority senators’ argument is based on Article VII Section 21 of the 1987 Constitution, which states “entering into treaty or international agreement requires participation of Congress, that is, through concurrence of at least 2/3 of all the members of the Senate.”
Their contention is that a move to back out from an agreement would also have to get Senate concurrence in contrast to the Palace position that pulling out of the ICC is a presidential prerogative.
The legal tussle at the SC will also be an outcrop of the ICC case against Rody, which experts on international relations said could take years, even beyond the President’s term that ends in 2022.
Nehginpao Kipgen, Associate Professor and Executive Director at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies (CSEAS), said in a Bangkok Post article that ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, who announced in February the start of a preliminary investigation into the complaint, would have to first seek approval from international judges if she wishes to open a formal investigation.
The decision process would not be done immediately as Kipgen said, since during the announcement of the preliminary investigation, “there has not been any significant development or progress” on the complaint.
The lack of ICC action was likely the reason for the yellow senators to look for another venue, which is the SC, to keep up the pressure on Rody and his war on drugs.
“It is unlikely, or at least it will be very difficult, to conduct any kind of comprehensive investigation into alleged crimes against humanity,” Kipgen said.
Though the government has notified the UN secretary-general of its withdrawal, it takes a year to become effective.
The Palace, however, argued that technically, the Philippines has never joined the ICC because it was not announced in the country’s Official Gazette.
Kipgen, in turn, said the government submitted a letter to the UN secretary-general for the country’s withdrawal, which was an acknowledgment of its ICC membership.
“Though it may not happen while Mr. Duterte is still in power, the court proceeding can possibly continue,” he added.
The yellow gambit is that the ICC petition would become the pivotal element for the oust-Duterte movement, while at the same time provide a useful smokescreen as more of the excesses of Noynoy and his yellow cabal are unearthed.
The ICC case had little to do with accountability.
It is largely another desperate gimmick of the yellow mob to erode Rody’s popularity, which remains overwhelming two years after he assumed the presidency.