Opposition senators to SC: Let de Lima be our voice on ICC withdrawal issue

OPPOSITION senators are asking the Supreme Court (SC) to allow detained Sen. Leila de Lima to argue on their behalf in connection with their petition seeking to declare as invalid the decision of President Duterte to withdraw from the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

In a three-page manifestation, the senators pointed out that it has been a practice of the High Tribunal to allow members of Congress to appear before it and argue cases that they file in their capacity as senators or representatives who are real parties-in-interest.

“The undersigned manifesting senators, in the course of their preparations for this case and in compliance with this Honorable Court’s directive for the respective parties or their counsels to attend the oral arguments for this case as scheduled, are of the strong conviction that the arguments for the case of all the petitioners will be best presented before this Honorable Court by their colleague, Sen. de Lima,”

The manifestation was signed by Senators Francis Pangilinan, Franklin Drilon, Paolo Benigno  Aquino IV, Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel, Antonio Trillanes IV and de Lima.

The Court has set the oral argument on the issue on August 14, 2018, at 2  p.m. Aside from the opposition senators, a similar petition was filed by the Philippine Coalition for the International Criminal Court, or PCICC, led by former Commission on Human  Rights  Commissioner Etta Rosales and 11 other individuals. The two petitions have been ordered consolidated by the Court.

The opposition senators added that the issues raised in their petitions are of “transcendental importance,” thus, the detained senator should be allowed to personally argue the case during the oral arguments.

The opposition senators told the Court that they will no longer be represented by counsel during the oral arguments as they have decided to adopt in whole the arguments and positions that de Lima would raise.

De Lima is currently detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center pending resolution of the illegal-drugs charges filed against her before the court.

The senator is being accused of benefiting from the illegal-drugs trade inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa during her term as justice secretary.

In an advisory issued on Thursday, the SC has limited the oral arguments to four major issues, such as whether it should take cognizance of the petitions; whether the withdrawal from the ICC’s Rome Statute through a “note verbale” delivered to the secretary-general of the United Nations is “valid, binding and effectual;”  whether the withdrawal places the Philippines in breach of its obligations under international law; and whether or not it will diminish the Filipino people’s protection under international law.




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