De Lima chosen by co-petitioners to argue case vs. PH withdrawal from ICC

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 20) — Detained Senator Leila De Lima may represent fellow opposition lawmakers in their petition against President Rodrigo Duterte's decision to pull out of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

That is, if the Supreme Court allows her to attend the oral arguments set on July 24.

De Lima was among the six senators who filed the May 16 petition that asks the High Court to stop the country's withdrawal from the Rome Statute, the treaty that formed the ICC. They argued the executive cannot pull the country out of the international tribunal without the Senate's concurrence. The other senators are Kiko Pangilinan, Franklin Drilon, Bam Aquino, Risa Hontiveros, and Antonio Trillanes.

Pangilinan on Tuesday said they have chosen De Lima to argue their case as lead counsel and co-petitioner.

"Sumang-ayon na siya na siya ang magiging lead counsel para dito sa kaso pag-kwestyon ng withdrawal ng executive department sa ICC," Pangilinan told reporters.

[Translation: "She agreed to be lead counsel in this petition questioning the executive department's withdrawal from the ICC."]

He said De Lima would be perfect for the job since she was former Justice Secretary and former chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights.

"She has all the necessary experience to be able to defend us and represent us," he said.

But the High Court needs to allow De Lima to attend the hearings, Pangilinan said, since De Lima has been detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center on drug charges.

De Lima, a staunch critic of the Duterte administration said her drug cases are all trumped up charges.

De Lima on June 25 filed a manifestation to allow her to personally appear and represent herself as counsel in the oral arguments before the Supreme Court.


Withdrawing from the ICC

Duterte pulled the country out of the international tribunal in March, 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.

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

Duterte and his officials also said the withdrawal was not needed in the first place because the Philippines was never a member of the ICC. They argued the country's ratification of the Rome Statute never took effect as it was not published on the Official Gazette.

For its part, the ICC said it will push through with its preliminary examination.

Malacañang said it will not cooperate with the probe, and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and the Philippine National Police — the agencies leading the anti-drug campaign — are following its lead.