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In last-minute push, rights advocates plead SC to stop PH’s ICC withdrawal

MANILA, Philippines — Cases of extrajudicial killings could increase once the country’s withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC) takes effect on Sunday, March 17, ICC advocates told the Supreme Court (SC) on Friday.

In a last ditch effort, members of the Philippine Coalition for the International Criminal Court (PCICC) urged the SC to act on two consolidated petitions to compel the executive department to take back the government’s withdrawal of its ratification of the Rome Statute, a United Nations (UN) treaty creating the ICC.


Under the Rome Statue, a State Party like the Philippines may withdraw from the Statute through a written notification. The withdrawal shall take effect one year after the date of receipt of the notification. On the case of the Philippines, the one year will be on March 17, 2019.

“If and when the withdrawal takes effect, petitioners submit that it would mean Filipinos would be deprived of effective remedies provided under international law and constitutional law in the event that there is inaction by Philippine law enforcement authorities to investigate or prosecute impunity committed in the Philippines,” read the urgent motion.


“Indeed, Petitioners fear that with the withdrawal taking effect without this Honorable Court’s action, those who kill with impunity will only be further emboldened,” it added.

PCICC led by former Commission on Human Right chair Loretta Rosales as well as six opposition senators filed separate petitions before the high court questioning the government’s withdrawal from ICC without Senate’s ratification.

An oral argument on the petitions was conducted last year. However, a court insider last Tuesday — the high court’s last session prior to March 17 — said the consolidated ICC petitions was not tackled during its full court meeting.

President Rodrigo Duterte in March last year announced the government’s withdrawal of its ratification of the Rome Statute, which also means pulling out the Philippines’ membership from ICC .

In its diplomatic note to the UN secretary general, the government explained that its “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.” /kga


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