Trillanes: Duterte’s withdrawal from ICC ‘void from the start’
Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV took the Senate floor on Wednesday to question the validity of President Rodrigo Duterte’s withdrawal of the Philippines from the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the international Criminal Court (ICC).
In a privilege speech, Trillanes said the unilateral withdrawal by the President was “void from the start.”
“I’d like to manifest that for as long as the senators or two-thirds of the total number of senators have not concurred with the withdrawal, such withdrawal of Mr. Duterte from the ICC is void from the start,” he said.
But Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III said there was nothing in the Constitution requiring Senate concurrence when withdrawing from a treaty.
“I agree with you there. We need Senate concurrence when a treaty is ratified by our treaty maker, which is the executive branch. But then I now disagree with you if we use the same provision to also read the requirement of Senate concurrence in withdrawal from treaties,” Pimentel said.
But Trillanes, a staunch critic of the Duterte administration, said that, if Senate concurrence was required when entering into international agreements, then it should follow that the same concurrence should also apply when withdrawing.
“Because we have a system of checks and balances in place and part of that is the concurrence of the Senate so that it will remove the arbitrariness of any single branch of government,” he said.
The Senate leader insisted, however, that the Senate concurrence in the withdrawal from a treaty was not clear in the Constitution.
“In my opinion, it’s not there,” Pimentel said.
Trillanes agreed with his colleague, saying it was not in the Constitution “but by implication.”
The opposition senator also expressed hope that the Supreme Court would eventually make a decision whether the Philippines’ withdrawal by Duterte was valid or void.
“It will be resolved at a certain point by an appropriate petition with the Supreme Court,” Trillanes said.
Pimentel believes that the framers of the Constitution intentionally “limited” the role of the Senate. To expand it, he said, would require an amendment of the Constitution.
In the same speech, Trillanes also disputed Duterte’s assertion that the Philippines was not bound by the treaty since it was not published in the Official Gazette, the official publication of the government.
But the senator said such publication in the Official Gazette was not required under Executive Order No. 459 that provides for guidelines on international agreements and its ratification.
The directive, he said, was signed in 1998 during the time of then President Fidel Ramos. /atm
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