Leila de Lima


December 1, 2023 People's Journal 150 views

FORMER Senator Leila De Lima said rejoining the International Criminal Court should be straightforward for the government of the Philippines since its withdrawal did not benefit the country but only served the interest of one man: Mr. Rodrigo Duterte.

“Why would it be so difficult to rejoin ICC when the withdrawal therefrom was highly suspect, serving only the interest of one man who obviously just wanted to evade accountability?” De Lima, jailed under the Duterte administration for more than six years, said.

The Philippine government is seriously studying proposals to rejoin the ICC, which is ready to probe Duterte’s bloody war against drugs during his administration that has resulted in the death of thousands of people.

De Lima said that the Philippines acknowledged the wisdom behind the Rome Statute that established the ICC when the Senate ratified the international treaty in 2011.

“So why perpetuate Duterte’s self-serving and shameless act of withdrawal?” De Lima asked.

“Those who oppose rejoining the ICC are only serving the interest of Duterte and others who are responsible for the murder of thousands of our countrymen,” she added.

De Lima also criticized the statement of Vice President Sara Duterte, former President Duterte’s daughter, on the Marcos administration’s possible cooperation with the ICC on the former president’s bloody drug war.

“All told, the Dutertes of Davao are not the best resource persons for the administration in deciding whether or not to cooperate in the ICC investigation, considering that they are the ones being investigated for their role in the operation of a death squad in Davao City during the period within the scope of said investigation,” De Lima expressed.

VP Duterte, she continued, is actually undermining the presidential prerogative to rejoin the ICC by saying she intends to submit a legal position to the Department of Justice (DOJ).

“But as a member of the cabinet, VP Sara has no business submitting such legal opinion in her capacity as DepEd Secretary. The ICC matter has nothing to do with the DepEd,” De Lima said.

“Second, if she is submitting her legal opinion in her capacity as VP, then she is accomplishing precisely the very opposite of her admonition that we should respect the President’s position, by preempting the finality of said position even when she has no authority to do so,” she added.

“In her capacity as VP, she is not a member of the Cabinet, and therefore has no role whatsoever in shaping foreign policy at the Cabinet level.”