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Kiko, Risa welcomes SC saying Philippines obliged to cooperate with ICC despite withdrawal

While they respect the Supreme Court’s junking of the petition challenging the Duterte administration’s unilateral withdrawal from the Rome Statute, opposition lawmakers welcomed the High Tribunal's ruling on the Philippines' obligations to  the International Criminal Court.

"We welcome the guideline pronounced by the Court that ‘even if [the Philippines] has deposited the instrument of withdrawal, it shall not be discharged from any criminal proceedings...Whatever process was already initiated before the International Criminal Court obliges the state party to cooperate'," Senator Francis Pangilinan said in a statement.

"We take this as a step in the right direction towards attaining government accountability and substantial justice," he added.

He added that the opposition lawmakers had yet to receive the copy and they are considering other legal remedies, including the filing of a motion for reconsideration before the SC.

Senator Risa Hontiveros likewise welcomed these provisions of the SC ruling.

“[T]he Supreme Court ruled that withdrawal from the Rome statute will not affect the duty of the Philippine government to cooperate with the [International Criminal Court] in all criminal investigations and proceedings commenced prior to the withdrawal," Hontiveros said.

"This means that the withdrawal will not negate any liability for the alleged summary killings and other abuses committed in the course of the so-called War on Drugs,” she added.

“I have some bad news for human rights violators in the country: They are not off the hook. They have nothing to celebrate. Sooner or later, they will have to face justice for the heinous acts they have committed against the Filipino people,” Hontiveros said.

The SC has dismissed the petitions filed by a group of opposition senators and the Philippine Coalition for the ICC on the ground of mootness as the Philippines formally exited the Rome Statute on March 17, 2019.

The high court, however, ruled that the Philippines remained obliged to cooperate with the ICC despite the administration’s pullout.

The Rome Statute is the treaty that created the ICC.

Malacañang on Thursday maintained that the Philippine government would not cooperate with the ICC’s investigation on the alleged drug war killings.

Former ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, before her retirement, asked the ICC to probe the Duterte administration’s drug war saying there was "reasonable basis" to believe that crimes against humanity had been committed in the campaign.

Bensouda, in a 52-page report, cited police, human rights groups, media reports and confidential sources in concluding that the drug war kilings which numbered over 20,000 had a pattern of killing suspects who are not resisting arrest, with some even begging for their lives to be spared. —NB, GMA News