Supreme Court asked to allow de Lima to argue on Rome Statute case

July 26, 2018

The minority bloc at the Senate has asked the Supreme Court to allow Senator Leila de Lima to represent them during the oral arguments on their petition questioning the executive’s move to withdraw the country’s membership in the International Criminal Court (ICC).

In a manifestation with motion filed on July 24, the senators asked to grant the earlier petition of De Lima “to argue the case at hand in her personal capacity as a petitioner.”

The manifestation was filed by Senators Francis Pangilinan, Franklin Drilon, Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, Risa Hontiveros, Antonio Trillanes IV, and conformed by De Lima.

De Lima is currently detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center on alleged drug-related charges.

On May 16, the six opposition senators asked the Supreme Court to invalidate the decision of the executive branch because of lack of concurrence from the Senate.

In 2011, the Senate ratified the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the ICC, where President Rodrigo Duterte has been accused of crimes against humanity over his bloody war on drugs.

In March, Duterte ordered the withdrawal of the country’s membership from the ICC, citing the “baseless, unprecedented, and outrageous attacks” against him and his administration.

In their May 16 petition, the senators argued that the “Executive cannot abrograte or repeal a law. In the same vein, the executive cannot unilaterally withdraw from a treaty or international agreement because such withdrawal is equivalent to a repeal of a law.”

In June, De Lima also filed a petition before the high court to allow her to participate in the oral arguments.

The minority senators, in the July 24 motion, said they are “of the strong conviction that the arguments for the cause of all the petitioners will be best presented before this Honorable Court by their colleague, Senator De Lima.”

“Thus, . . . the senators hereby manifest that they will no longer be represented by counsel during the oral arguments but, instead, they will be adopting en toto the presentation, arguments and positions to be put forward by Senator De Lima during the oral arguments as their own presentation, arguments, and position.”

They added, “The issues in this case being of transcendental importance, Senator de Lima should not be prevented from personally arguing the case before the Honorable Court by mere reason of her incidental detention.”

The oral arguments were scheduled on August 14, at 2 p.m.