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After Duterte takes PHL out of ICC, Koko wants greater Senate say on PHL foreign policy

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III said he was willing to work on the Senate getting more participation in determining the country’s foreign policies.

Pimentel, President Rodrigo Duterte's party mate in the PDP-Laban and top ally in the Senate, made the remark after the Chief Executive decided to withdraw the Philippines from the International Criminal Court.

Pimentel said the Senate at present had no say in the country’s withdrawal from treaties.

He said it should be one of the provisions changed if Charter change pushed through.

“‘Yung withdrawal sa ICC, the Rome Statute,  may participation ba ang Senate o wala? Under the present Constitution, wala. You can interpret it na wala,” Pimentel said in his opening statement during the Senate regional consultative hearing on Cha-cha in Baguio City.

“So why not open  it up? Give the Senate more role in determining our foreign policy so that this is not determined by one man kasi sa executive branch is led by one man. Open tayo d’yan,” he added.

Duterte earlier announced the country’s withdrawal from the ICC due to “baseless, unprecedented and outrageous attacks” against him and his administration.

The Philippine government has already formally notified the United Nations (UN) of its decision.

“The decision to withdraw is the Philippines’ principled stand against those who politicize and weaponize human rights, even as its independent and well-functioning organs and agencies continue to exercise jurisdiction over complaints, issues, problems and concerns arising from its efforts to protect its people,” stated the March 15 letter addressed to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

The announcement came after the ICC said that it would conduct initial review on the complaints filed by lawyer Jude Sabio, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, and Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano.

Last year, Minority Leader Franklin Drilon filed a resolution stating that Senate had a say on the withdrawal from treaties. Senator Manny Pacquiao, another Duterte ally, blocked it.

To address the issue, in each individual treaty concurred to by the Senate, senators would introduce a paragraph stating that termination of or withdrawal of the same shall be valid and effective only upon the concurrence by the chamber.

Pimentel, an advocate of federalism, said development in the country could be done if the public was open to structural change such as the adoption of federal system of government.

“Since it requires opening up of the entire Constitution, ‘yun ang ating law, we cannot adopt federal system unless we amend the Constitution. Since binubuksan na rin ang Konstitusyon tingnan na rin po natin yung ibang kakulungan,” Pimentel said.

Pimentel is also proposing amending the constitution in such a way that the vote for the presidential candidate would also be a vote for the vice presidential bet.

"Para may stability," Pimentel said.

He is also open to amending the economic provisions to make the country more flexible.

The Senate committees on constitutional amendments and revision of codes and electoral reforms and people’s participation conducted hearing at the University of the Cordillera in Baguio City.

Aside from Pimentel, others present were committee chairperson Francis Pangilinan, Senators Panfilo Lacson, Bam Aquino, and Nancy Binay. —NB, GMA News