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Miriam pushes for ratification of Rome Statute

MANILA, Philippines - After leading the Senate ratification of the charter of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (Jpepa), Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago is now gunning for the country's concurrence to the Rome Statute. Defensor on Wednesday filed Resolution 710 urging President Arroyo to transmit to the Senate the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court for ratification proceedings. Santiago said the Philippines has yet to ratify the Rome Statute even though the Philippines has been a signatory of the treaty since December 28, 2002. She said this was due to Malacañang’s failure to transmit the statute to the Senate. The lawmaker said before the Rome Statute can be valid and effective in the Philippines, it must be concurred in by at least two-thirds of all the members of the Senate. The ratification of Rome Statute would pave the way for the country's adherence to the principles of the International Criminal Court (ICC) for the prosecution of serious crimes committed against civilians. The crimes punished under the Statute are genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression. "The gravity of crimes punished under the Rome Statute as violations of human rights and the laws of humanity and international humanitarian law…makes the issues involved fundamentally important to the Philippines and its people," the resolution read. Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno and Human Rights chairperson Leila de Lima were also pushing for the ratification of the Rome Statute. During the first Supreme Court-sponsored Conference on the ICC held at the Rennaissance Hotel in Makati City last month, Puno said ratification would strengthen the rule of law in the country. In the same event, De Lima said the ratification would be a "big deterrent" to the human rights violations in the country. "There is really an urgency to ratify treaties of international instrument like this because this will cover extraordinary offenses, with all these happening in Mindanao and political killings if it gets worse," De Lima said. However, Armed Forces chief Alexander Yano opposed the proposal for the country to join the ICC. In a paper prepared by the AFP for the ICC conference, Yano expressed fears that the ICC might only serve as a convenient venue for filing partisan and politically-motivated cases of rights violations against uniformed men. He added that it could hamper security efforts against terrorists and lawless elements and groups. Yano said there are enough measures in the Constitution and other related laws that protect human rights. - GMANews.TV