Senate bets bare opposing sides on PH exit from ICC

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(L-R) Senatorial candidates Richard Alfajora, Ernesto "Lawin" Arellano, Toti Casiño, and Glenn Chong

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 17) — Senatorial candidates were on opposite sides on the discussion of the country’s withdrawal from the International Criminal Court.

Lawin Arellano, a lawyer and the founder of labor activist group Kilusang Mayo Uno argued that a membership in the ICC does not constitute as an intervention into the country’s affairs. Arellano is running under the Katipunan ng Kamalayang Kayumanggi.

Kapag ang pamamahala mo ay demokratiko at malinis, kinakailangan handa ka na tingnan ng buong daigdig, ang family of nations, kung paano mo minamahal ang inyong mamamayan, paano mo pinaglilingkuran ang inyong mamamayan, kaya hindi intervention sa ating sovereignty ang membership,” Arellano said during a CNN Philippines’ senatorial forum Sunday.

[Translation: If your governance is democratic and clean, you should be ready to be scrutinized of the world, the family of nations, on how you love your citizens and how you serve them. And that's why membership is not an intervention in our sovereignty.]

His running mate Richard Alfajora agreed, saying the President could have rallied his case against the ICC, instead of backing away and avoiding the issue.

'Yung withdrawal as an approach to solve a problem is not good, so dapat gagawa siya ng hakbang nang mas malawakan sa international community para may reform doon. ‘Pag magkaroon ng reporma then we could have President Duterte stronger than any other president kasi nagawa niya 'yung rallying, 'yung reform, at nakikinig ‘yung international community. ‘Pag wi-withdraw, anong mangyari? Parang ‘yung ikaw 'yung umatras, hindi ka nakipaglaban,” Alfajora argued.

[Translation:The withdrawal as an approach to solve a problem is not good, so he should have used a better way to instill reform in the international community. If we instill a reform then we could have President Duterte stronger than any other president because he was able to rally and reform and the international community would be listening. If we withdraw, what would happen? It’s as if you are backing away, not fighting back.]

President Rodrigo Duterte announced his decision to pull the country out from the international body’s jurisdiction, following a case filed against him in relation to his violent anti-drug campaign.

Glenn Chong, a lawyer running under the Katipunan ng Demokratikong Pilipino (KDP), said he stands by the President’s decision given that the Philippine judicial system is well-functioning and does not warrant any scrutiny from foreign powers.

"I really don't want na any Filipino should be subject to the jurisdiction of any foreign power like in the case of ICC. We have our own system of government. Mayroon naman tayong [We have a] judicial system that is working. So bakit kailangan nating i-surrender ang ating leader [So why do we need to surrender our leader] to a foreign power? I value our sovereignty as an independent country,” Chong said.

Chong’s slatemate Toti Casio shared his sentiment saying the ICC withdrawal shows the country’s capacity for self-governance.

Kami ay nasa likod sa desisyon ni Pangulong Duterte na bumitiw sa International Criminal Court, kung kailangan idaan sa Kongreso para yan ay talakayin ay kami ay bukas para alamin ano ang mga pros and cons pero dito kami magkikita kung paano nating malalaman ang pawang katotohanan nang malaman ng mga mamamayang Pilipino na kaya natin magself-govern and self-rule.”

[Translation: We are behind the President Duterte’s decision to pull out from the International Criminal Court. If we need to go through Congress to discuss it, we are open to it to know the pros and cons but this is where we see the truth so the people can know that we can self-govern and self-rule.]

The ICC withdrawal took effect Sunday but the case on its constitutionality remains pending in the Supreme Court.