President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. holds the legal authority to reinstate the Philippines in the International Criminal Court (ICC) without needing the Senate's approval, according to former Senate President Franklin Drilon. This statement comes into focus amidst discussions on the country's potential re-engagement with the ICC.
The Impact of Withdrawing from the ICC
The Philippines, under the jurisdiction of former President Rodrigo Duterte, withdrew from the ICC in 2019. The withdrawal came into effect a year later, amidst rising concerns over alleged human rights violations during Duterte's anti-drug campaign. The campaign, initiated in 2016, recorded over 6,181 fatalities, drawing international attention and criticism.
The Power of Presidential Decisions
Drilon highlighted Duterte's unilateral decision to terminate the decades-old Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), which governed the presence of US troops in the Philippines. Duterte later retracted the termination letter for the VFA, effectively reinstating the pact. This action underscores the President's authority to withdraw from or rejoin a treaty unless a provision requires Senate concurrence prior to withdrawal. The Supreme Court's ruling in this regard further strengthens this stance.
The Implications of Rejoining the ICC
Drilon's assertion indicates that Marcos Jr. can reverse Duterte's decision, relying on the original resolution or ratification, which remains valid and in effect. The resolution, authored by the late Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago during the administration of late President Benigno Aquino III, remains legally binding unless specifically repealed. Thus, Marcos Jr.'s decision could significantly influence the Philippines' commitment to human rights and the rule of law.
On the other hand, those opposing the rejoining of the Philippines in the ICC are seen as protecting themselves as potential respondents to the case. The court has resumed its investigation into the Duterte administration's drug war, rejecting the plea of the Philippine government against the resumption of the probe. As the tribunal processes the received information, including testimonials from the National Union of Peoples' Lawyers (NUPL), the question of rejoining the ICC becomes a critical issue, especially in relation to obligations such as the execution or implementation of a warrant of arrest.