Carpio: PH stand vs China will weaken with ICC withdrawal
Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio on Tuesday warned that the Philippines’ withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC) would weaken the country’s stand against China.
During the continuation of the oral argument questioning the validity of the Philippines’ withdrawal from ICC without concurrence of the Senate, Carpio mentioned the recent amendment to the Rome Statute where the crime of aggression has been included as punishable not only against the state but its leaders and military officials as well.
The crime of aggression, under the Rome Statute known as the Kampala amendment refers to the “planning, preparation, initiation or execution, by a person in a position effectively to exercise control over or to direct the political or military action of a State, of an act of aggression which, by its character, gravity and scale, constitutes a manifest violation of the Charter of the United Nations.”
Acts of aggression under the Rome Statute include invasion, military occupation, annexation by the use of force, bombardment and military blockade ports. The inclusion of the offense to the Rome Statute has been adopted by consensus at the 2010 Kampala Review Conference.
“There was a recent amendment to Rome Statute on crime of aggression.. It says that political and military leaders of a State that commit aggression, invades or occupies militarily the territory of another State will be guilty of crime of aggression and they can be brought to the ICC. Their political and military leaders will be individually responsible. Are you aware of this?” Carpio asked Calida.
“Am I aware of that your Honor,” Calida asked.
“But all States must ratify that part [Kampala Amendment] to be binding on the State [like the Philippines]. We have not ratified because before we could ratify, we already gave our notice to withdraw,” Carpio said.
Carpio said if China invades Pag-asa Island and puts a naval base in Scarborough Shoal, among the territories subject of a dispute, “we will not be able to sue President Xi Jin Ping and his military leaders.”
“I mean we cannot take advantage of this legal defense anymore because we are withdrawing from the Rome Statute,” Carpio said.
Calida replied “there might be other international treaties Your Honor that we can use if we withdraw.”
“Do you know any,” Carpio asked,adding that “this is the only treaty in the world that holds military and political leaders of a State that commits crime of aggression individually accountable before an international tribunal, no other.
“Unfortunately Your Honor, I do not have the encyclopedic mind of Justice [Marvic] Leonen. I cannot answer it,” Calida said.
Carpio required the Solicitor General to discuss why the country is giving its only possible defense against Chinese leaders if they will invade the territories subject of a dispute.
Even if he is vying for the Chief Justice position whose appointment lies in the hands of President Rodrigo Duterte, Carpio, the most senior magistrate of the Supreme Court, has been vocal against the Duterte administration’s inaction on the Chinese military activities in the West Philippine Sea.
Duterte recently appointed Chief Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro to replace Maria Lourdes Sereno. De Castro is the second most senior justice of the Supreme Court. Carpio earlier declined the nomination.
Duterte’s earlier pronouncement that seniority is his primary consideration in making appointments will be put to test once Carpio accepts his automatic nomination to replace De Castro. /ee
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