SC denies De Lima petition to attend oral arguments on withdrawal from ICC

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Senator Leila de Lima is currently detained in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

Updated to include statements from Senator Leila de Lima.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 7) — The Supreme Court (SC) has denied a petition to let detained Senator Leila de Lima participate in oral arguments on the Philippines' move to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC), the court's spokesperson said Tuesday.

Voting 10-2, the SC junked the petition filed by the minority Senate bloc to let De Lima argue for the position of non-withdrawal from the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court, where a case against President Rodrigo Duterte is pending for alleged human rights violations on the conduct of his violent anti-drug campaign.

The SC added that De Lima did not plead any competencies or circumstances exclusive to her that would make her appearance in the oral arguments in the ICC important.

But De Lima argued that the case is very personal to her since she has upheld human rights during her term as Commissioner of Human Rights (CHR) chairperson.

"The case is very personal to me since it reflects the hostility of the President to international human rights institutions and officials with whom I closely identify with as former CHR Chair. I felt that in arguing this case before the Court, I would also be defending them and fighting for the cause that we all hold close to our hearts: human rights and human dignity," she said in a dispatch from Camp Crame obtained Wednesday.

The detained senator also said the withdrawal is a "self-serving act" of President Rodrigo Duterte, and that the Senate minority bloc which filed the plea is asserting its constitutional role in ratifying treaties.

"My request to personally argue the case was also borne out of a desire to highlight the importance of the Philippines' continued status as a State-Party to the Rome Statute, and why Duterte is deathly afraid of it. This is Duterte ensuring impunity for himself," he said.

On March 14, Duterte said the country would withdraw from the ICC "effective immediately," slamming efforts to use the organization "as a political tool against the Philippines."

Six senators -- the Liberal Party's Francis Pangilinan, Franklin Drilon, Bam Aquino, and de Lima, Akbayan Party's Risa Hontiveros,  and  Antonio Trillanes of the Nacionalista Party -- filed a petition on May 16 asking the court to stop the country's withdrawal from the ICC.

The petition asked the court to "declare as invalid and ineffective the withdrawal of the Philippines from the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court without the concurrence of at least two-thirds of all the members of the Senate."

Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza dissented from the decision.

The oral arguments are scheduled on August 14.