The Senate approved on third and final reading the resolution concurring in the ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), the world’s first permanent tribunal for war crimes.
Garnering 17 affirmative votes, one negative vote and no abstension, Senate Resolution No. 546 was approved today.
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, who registered the negative vote, said that the resolution might impede soldiers from the carrying out their duties and that it might “expose Philippine Presidents to all kinds of suits where they will have to spend their own money, personal fortunes to defend themselves, and the worries that accompany them while they await the verdict which is outside our normal forum.” SRN 546 concurred in the ratification of the Rome Statute transmitted by President Benigno Aquino III to the Senate last February 28. Under the treaty, the ICC can step in when countries are unwilling or unable to dispense justice for the core crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes or crimes of aggression.
The Philippines was one of the countries that drafted the treaty in 1998.
The senator said that if a state becomes a party to the Rome Statute, any past leader could be investigated and prosecuted if he commits a core crime, particularly if he is the head of state, member of the national legislature, or government official at a similarly high level.
“If the state is already investigating or prosecuting its own head of state or similar official, the Court will not intervene. But if the state is unwilling or unable to prosecute, then the Court will try the case in The Hague,” Santiago said.
Under Article 28 of the Rome Statute, the military commander will also assume command responsibility for crimes committed by forces under his command and control.
Santiago said the ICC will hold persons, except minors, individually responsible, unlike the International Court of Justice which punishes only states.
She said the treaty will also put the Philippines in a better position to protect Filipino Overseas Workers against crimes against humanity when they work abroad.
“By concurring in the ratification of the Rome Statute, the Philippines will help the Court to end the culture of impunity, and affirm our position as a leading human rights advocate in Asia,” Santiago said.
With the Senate concurrence in ratification of the Rome Statute, the Philippines becomes qualified to nominate a Filipino as one of the 18 judges of the ICC.
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