Trillanes to file petition vs. PH withdrawal from ICC

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 22) — Senator Antonio Trillanes IV on Thursday said he will ask the Supreme Court to look into President Rodrigo Duterte's withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The opposition lawmaker told CNN Philippines' The Source he will file the petition "at an appropriate time."

He said other senators are also "seriously considering" filing a Senate resolution and a petition before the Supreme Court to question Duterte's move.

The President pulled the country out of the international tribunal, a month after the ICC announced a preliminary examination on alleged extrajudicial killings in the country. A preliminary examination will determine whether there is cause to go on a full-blown investigation.

READ: Duterte to critics: I challenge you to debate my decision on ICC withdrawal  

Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, along with Senate President Koko Pimentel, earlier said withdrawing from the ICC does not need to go through Senate.

Trillanes disagreed, saying "the decision to withdraw is just as important as entering into a treaty."

This view is backed by 14 other senators who filed Resolution No. 289 in February 2017, Trillanes said. The resolution states the termination of or withdrawal from any treaty or international agreement should be effective only after Senate concurrence.

Trillanes, alongside Magdalo Party-list Rep. Gary Alejano, filed a communication against Duterte at the ICC in June 2017, to complement the one earlier filed by lawyer Jude Sabio.

'Duterte in panic'

In pulling out of the ICC, Duterte is acting like "a man in panic," Trillanes said.

He also accused the President of trying to evade accountability.

Duterte in February said he welcomed the ICC's review. In March however, Duterte said the ICC had no jurisdiction over him. The Palace later announced the country's withdrawal from the treaty, with Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque saying that Duterte found the ICC's examination "unacceptable."

Trillanes is confident there is a strong case against the government. "I'm confident because 20,000 na 'yung namatay and somebody needs to be accountable for that."

In the communication filed before the ICC,  Sabio accused Duterte of "repeatedly, unchangingly, and continuously" committing mass murder. He said 1,400 individuals were killed by the so-called Davao Death Squad under the leadership of then Mayor Duterte, and 7,000 individuals were killed in the government's war on drugs since Duterte took office.

READ: PH withdrawal from ICC brings case closer to a criminal investigation, lawyer says  

Trillanes and Alejano told the ICC killings in the country's drug war continued even after Sabio's communication.

More than 4,000 suspects were killed in anti-drug operations since the start of the bloody drug war in July 2016, government data show.

Local and international human rights groups said Duterte in his public pronouncements ordered or encouraged policemen to kill those involved in the drug trade. They said this resulted in more than 13,000 extrajudicial killings in the drug war.

Malacañang has said there are no state-sponsored killings and it is committed to investigate officers who violate and abuse their power.

Roque on Thursday maintained the government will not cooperate if the ICC insisted on continuing its review on the President and the war on drugs.

READ: Roque: PH won't cooperate in ICC probe on drug war