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Nasabon! Pimentel schools Trillanes on Senate concurrence for ICC withdrawal

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By Xave Gregorio

Senate President Koko Pimentel and Senator Antonio Trillanes IV clashed over whether the Senate should also concur with President Rodrigo Duterte’s withdrawal from the Rome Statute, with the mutineer-turned-lawmaker insisting that it should, despite lacking basis in the Constitution.

Trillanes said in a privilege speech Wednesday (March 21) that Duterte’s pull out from the Rome Statute, which creates the International Criminal Court, is “void from the start” as the Constitution “implicitly” requires the Senate to concur with withdrawal from treaties.

He cited Section 21, Article VII which only states that the concurrence of two-thirds of all members of the Senate is necessary for treaties and international agreements to be valid and effective.

“If the Senate concurrence is required into entering any international agreement then it should follow the same concurrence is also needed in withdrawing,” Trillanes said.

Pimentel, an abogado, however, countered the former mutineer, saying there is no provision in the Constitution which requires Senate concurrence for treaty withdrawals.

“The alleged domestic requirement of Senate concurrence from a treaty already entered into is not only not clear in the Constitution, in my opinion, it is not there,” Pimentel said.

Trillanes told the Senate President that he “totally agrees” with his opinion that there is no constitutional provision which states that requirement, but still insisted that the Senate’s nod for treaty withdrawals is stated in the Constitution “by implication.”

He said framers of the Constitution “overlooked a lot of things,” which explains why there is no provision which requires Senate concurrence for withdrawal from treaties.

Pimentel cautioned Trillanes, however, “it’s dangerous to always assumed that what we want to read in the Constitution was overlooked or omitted by the Constitution.”

“If it’s not here, then it is actually omitted by the framers of the Constitution,” the Senate President said.

As the ICC proceeded with its preliminary investigation into Duterte and his bloody war on drugs, the President announced the Philippines withdrawal from the court and the Rome Statute “effective immediately.”

However, Article 127 of the statute provides that the withdrawal from it would only be effective one year after a state party writes to the UN secretary general expressing its desire to leave.

But the Palace said this cannot apply as the Rome Statute never entered into force as it was not published in the official Gazette, as required by law.

Trillanes countered this in his speech, citing former President Fidel Ramos’ Executive Order No. 459 which only provides that, “Upon receipt of the concurrence by the Senate, the Department of Foreign Affairs shall comply with the provision of the treaties in effecting their entry into force.”