Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has expressed dismay over the denial by the Supreme Court of her plea to appear in the upcoming oral arguments against the Philippines’ unilateral withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC).
She, however, remains “humbled and honored” by the confidence reposed in her by her colleagues in the minority even as she remains “earnest to be able to argue on an issue of transcendental importance that has both grave national and international implications.”
De Lima said the case is “very personal” to her since the President’s action reflects his hostility to the international human rights institutions and officials with whom she closely identifies with as former Commission on Human Rights Chairperson.
“I am deeply disappointed by the decision of the Supreme Court denying my motion, as supported by my co-petitioners, to personally argue the case on the government’s withdrawal from the Rome Statute/International Criminal Court,” she said in her recent Dispatch from Crame No. 357.
“I felt that in arguing this case before the Court, I would also be defending them [international human rights institutions and officials] and fighting for the cause that we all hold close to our hearts: human rights and human dignity,” she added.
The Senator from Bicol said taking on such a task of arguing before the SC “would be a natural progression of my decade-long twin advocacy for upholding human rights of all persons, and the holding of public officials accountable to their abuses against the people they ought to serve.”
De Lima earlier sought the SC’s nod to allow her to personally appear and argue on the petition that she and her colleagues filed challenging the Philippines’ unilateral decision to withdraw from the ICC.
The SC junked the minority senators’ motion to allow De Lima to argue for the position of non-withdrawal from the Rome Statute, maintaining that the case will not be prejudiced if a lawyer other than De Lima argued their petition before the Court.
Last March, Mr. Duterte ordered the country’s unilateral withdrawal from the Rome Statute after the ICC announced it would initiate a preliminary examination into charges of mass murder against him due to his bloody war on drugs.
The Senator from Bicol said her 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.
“The withdrawal from the ICC is a self-serving act of the President, and is the best reason why the Constitution could not have contemplated that one man alone should be able to revoke and abrogate a whole nation’s solemn obligations to the international community,” she said.
“Through our Petition, we, the minority bloc, are simply asserting the Senate’s constitutional role in treaty making and un-making,” she added.
After SC denied the petition to allow De Lima to attend the oral arguments on withdrawal from ICC, the former justice secretary said she, along with her co-petitioners, will now decide on a proper course of action to ensure that they will be duly heard by the SC.
The oral arguments have been set for Aug. 14, at 2 pm.