ICC withdrawal not linked to sea dispute, says Palace

THERE is no link between the Philippines's withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC) and its unresolved dispute with China over the South China Sea, Malacañang said on Friday, October 12.

Newly-designated Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the remark after acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio raised the concern that the Philippines' withdrawal from the ICC would weaken its stance against China with regard to the sea disputes.

"Frankly, I have not seen the relation between withdrawing from the ICC and that particular China's issue," Panelo told a press conference.

"Wala akong makitang koneksyon. And moreover, actually, misnomer 'yung withdrawal. Hindi naman tayo nag-withdraw actually. The notice was more of informing them that, 'Excuse me, we're not part of you because you never assumed jurisdiction over us.' Kasi kung walang jurisdiction, what are we talking about?" he added.

(I cannot see any connection. And moreover, actually, the withdrawal is misnomer. He actually did not withdraw. The notice was more of informing them that, "Excuse me, we're not part of you because you never assumed jurisdiction over us." If there is no jurisdiction, what are we talking about?)

On Tuesday, October 9, Carpio warned that the Philippines could lose a "very strong" legal deterrent against China's possible invasion of the resource-rich South China Sea, if Manila pulls out of the ICC.

Carpio said the Philippines would benefit, if it keeps its membership with the ICC, mentioning that the recent amendment to the Rome Statute, an international treaty creating the international court, punishes crime of agression that may be committed by China.

The crime of aggression, as defined in the Kampala amendment, is the "planning, preparation, initiation or executon, 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."

"To take advantage of this new crime, we must remain with the ICC, and we must ratify the Kampala amednment. But we will not be doing it, because we are withdrawing," Carpio said at the resumption of the high court's oral argument on the petition against the country's withdrawal from the ICC.

"In withdrawing from the Rome Statute, we will be giving up this very strong legal deterrent," he added.

In an unsigned document released on March 14, Duterte announced the Philippine government's decision to repeal the Rome Statute, following the international tribunal's supposed "brazen display of ignorance of the law."

The Philippines, however, is still a member-state of the ICC, as Article 127 of the Rome Statute states that the withdrawal from the international court "shall take effect one year after the date of receipt of the notification, unless the notification specifies a later date."

Asked if the Duterte administration sees to need to ratify the Kampala amendment to advance the Philippines's position against China, Panelo said, "None that I know."

"As I said, we don't even need it so why do you have to get into it if you don't need it. Moreover, you must remember that most powerful countries are not even members of that, even less powerful countries are not even members," he added.

Panelo also emphasized that the Philippines does not need the ICC's help, saying that the country has a "robust" judicial system.

"Our courts were functioning as they are functioning now," he said. "In other words, we don't even need an ICC because we have shown, demonstrated to the world that we can do it without them." (SunStar Philippines)


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