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AN OVERVIEW: WORK FOR THE PHILIPPINE RATIFICATION OF THE ROME STATUTE: 1998 – 2006 September 6, 2006

Posted by s511 in foreign affairs, Human Rights, sovereignty, Speeches.
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Good morning: Senator Franklin Drilon, Senator Alain Destexhe, Judge Akua Kuenyehia, fellow members of Parliament, my colleagues from the Philippine Congress, members of the diplomatic corps, kindred spirits from the NGO community, distinguished guests, friends.

I have been requested to stand before you in this lovely rainy day for three reasons:  1] to share with you a Philippine work over the past eight years in seeking the ratification of the Rome Statute; 2] to remind ourselves how and why we are all gathered here this morning, an idea we had put together while meeting in the third PGA Consultative Assembly against the chilly winds of Wellington last December 2004; and 3] to suggest what we hope to accomplish within these two days of work.

But before I go into this, let me first express, in behalf of my colleagues in the House of Representatives, our profound thanks and gratitude to all those who have helped put this two-day consultation together – the Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA), the Coalition for the International Criminal Court Asia and the Pacific (CICC-Asia and the Pacific), the Philippine Coalition for the International Criminal Court (PCICC), our friends from the European Community, the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, and of course both the Philippine Senate and House of Representatives for being so gracious in providing  the venue of consultations here in the Senate today and in the House tomorrow.

As I had earlier said, Philippine work for the ratification of the Rome Statute spans a period of eight years. This almost-a decade-of-work has positively encouraged dialog and debate within Congress, the judiciary, the academic community and the uniformed men of law.

It is within and among the military and police officers where the most intense questions would arise:  is this not losing the sovereignty of the Philippines as an independent state?  Would the ICC not serve as a convenient instrument for lodging complaints on human rights violations against us especially from those coming from the Left?  What if they charge us with crimes of massacre or genocide, one concerned general asked me, to which I quickly replied with equal concern: “but General, do you intend to commit genocide or even have plans to massacre our people?”  While both questions are inter-related and have been asked us countless times, perhaps as starters, this could be among the issues we can raise later with our friend, Judge Akua Kuenyehia of the ICC.

When we recount our experience on the ICC, we realize that we had been part of the effort since day one when ideas were being put together before the adoption of the Rome Statute.  Ambassador Baja and the two professors of UP, Merlin Magallona and Raul Pangalangan composed the Philippine team who joined 119 other states that voted for the Rome Statute July 17, 1998.  As part of the Preparatory Commission for the ICC, we helped draft the Agreement on Rules of Procedure and Evidence, Elements of Crime, financial Regulations and the Victims Trust Fund.

This Philippine team – people in public service, specifically from the Philippine Congress, people from the academic community and the human rights community would underscore the continuing effort from the day we voted on the Statute eight years ago up to this morning. To ensure cooperation among these three sections of society – Congress, Academe and Civil Society, the Philippine Coalition for the International Criminal Court was set up (PCICC) which Prof. Raul Pangalangan and I co-chair.  At the regional level, the Coalition for the ICC Asia and the Pacific – CICC-Asia was formed where members of civil society of each country within the region actively work to lobby for ICC ratification.

At the global level, former Senator Loren Legarda and I have worked closely with the Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA), composed of some 1,300 elected legislators from 104 parliaments. PGA has provided us literature and continuing updates on developments on the Court’s performance.   And proudly enough, it was PGA who spearheaded the lobby work for some 57 of a hundred states who have now ratified the Rome Statute.  Since the PGA first came to the Philippines on the issue of privatization in 1997, the organization has been able to gather at least 30 members from the Philippine Congress.  I should hope that by the end of consultations, we can renew membership and gain new applications.

On 28 December 2000, the Philippines signed the Rome Statute of the ICC through Charge d’Affaires Enrique Manalo of the Philippine Mission to the United Nations, upon instructions of then President Joseph Estrada.  The Philippine Mission at the United Nations in New York deposited the instrument of ratification.

The months following the signing of the Rome Statute saw the government working actively in preparation for its ratification.

In 2001, the Philippine Commission on Human Rights (CHR) passed a resolution endorsing the ratification of the Rome Statute of the ICC by the Philippines.
On 16 April, 2001, then Secretary of Justice Hernando B. Perez wrote Sen. Loren Legarda a letter informing the Senator of the good news that the Philippines had indeed signed the Rome Statute, as per Department of Foreign Affairs Note No. 962 of 5 January 2001.  The Justice Secretary further stated that, and I quote, “on the issue of ratification, the Department of Justice, together with the Department of Foreign Affairs and the University of the Philippines, are in the process of organizing an ICC Experts Conference which will address controversial issues on the ICC, and which we believe will be invaluable when we push for ratification.”
On 23 April, a week after, a letter from the Department of National Defense Secretary Angelo T. Reyes to Sen. Loren Legarda declared the support of the DND for the immediate ratification of the Rome Statute.
By 1 June 2001, Sen. Loren Legarda filed Philippine Senate Resolution No. 11 “urging the immediate ratification of the Rome Statute of ( the) International Criminal Court, in view of our need to protect basic human rights according to international humanitarian law.”  The resolution cited the country’s statistics that showed that “our country has outstanding records on forced disappearances, salvaging, massacres, physical assault and other crimes against humanity as a result of the ongoing conflict between the military and various rebel groups.”  I might just like to add that that statement by the good Senator of the conflict obtaining between government troops and rebel forces in 2001 under then President Estrada has worsened today, five years after, where unarmed members of society suspected as sympathetic to rebel forces are killed in broad daylight and are part of the increasing number of innocent lives lost through extra-judicial political killings.
In mid-October of the same year, an experts conference on the ICC was held organized with Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Jr. who delivered the keynote address.
In 2002 under the new leadership of now President Arroyo,  House Committees on Foreign Affairs, Justice, National Defense, Inter-Parliamentary Relations and Diplomacy, and Public Order wrote a letter to the President urging immediate endorsement of the Rome Statute to the Senate.  This was followed by a Forum entitled “Who’s Afraid of the ICC” sponsored by the Committee on Foreign Affaires chaired by Rep. Jun Lozada, the Minority Leader Carlos Padilla and Rep. Satur Ocampo.
By November 2002, then Sen. Legarda and I, as members of the Senate and the House, attended first PGA Consultative Assembly on the ICC. The adopted Ottawa Plan of Action sought to safeguard the integrity of the ICC against any dilution contained in bilateral agreements or Security Council resolutions.
The year after, we were informed that the instrument of ratification of the Rome Statute signed under President Estrada could not be found.  It was here where the PCICC lobbied hard for the reconstitution of the instrument.  Thank God it was reconstituted.
By March,  2003,  Senator Pimentel and I, along with the PCICC. TFD and the UP academe filed a petition for mandamus before the Supreme Court to compel the Executive to transmit the signed copy of the Rome Statute to the Senate for its concurrence of ratification.
On April 21, I delivered a privilege speech at the House of Representatives to lobby for the endorsement by the Executive of the Rome Statue to the Senate. Within the year, the non-surrender bilateral agreement was signed by the Philippines with the U.S.  This was later questioned before the Supreme Court by Rep. Satur Ocampo.
On 12-13 September of 2003, we in PGA held our second consultative assembly in New York with 140 legislators from all regions. We adopted a declaration in which parliamentarians defined the guidelines and initiatives crucial to making the Court a universal, effective and independent institution.
On 6-7 December 2004, we had our third PGA consultative assembly where Senators Pimentel and Santiago joined Rep. Locsin and myself in Wellington.  We adopted the Wellington Resolution on the ICC, “Multilateralism and International Cooperation” .
By 8 February, 2005, three months after, Sen. Santiago introduced P.S. Resolution No. 171 seeking endorsement of the Rome Statute to the Senate.  In the same year, 8 April, the IPU held its 112th Assembly in Manila and unanimously adopted a resolution on the “Role of Parliaments in the establishment and functioning of mechanisms to provide for the judgment and sentencing of war crimes …”
The sad news came in July where the Supreme Court ruled that our mandamus petition before it was denied, saying that it was “within the authority of the President to refuse to submit a treaty to the Senate or, having secured its consent for its ratification, refuse to ratify it. …”
By 30 November, we again filed several bills seeking ratification in the House of Representatives.  These were deliberated upon and passed by the Committee on Foreign Affairs.
In budget hearings for 2006,  both in the House and the Senate, we questioned the Cabinets of the Executive re the Rome Statute only to be told that in fact the inter-agency committee was still studying the matter.
By April 5, 2006, the House of Representatives adopted Resolution No. 140 “urging the Phil. Government to support the ratification of the Rome Statute of the ICC.”  The original resolution was filed by Akbayan, joined later by several other authors in separate resolutions.

Having gone through a review of work on the ICC here in the Philippines, let me now turn to why we are here today.  This idea started in a small caucus of Asian MPs that included Senator Tadashi Inuzuka  and myself in Wellington’s 3rd PGA Consultative Assembly.  CICC-Asia and the Pacific and the PCICC were with us as we broached the idea of a working group of Asian MPs for the ratification of the Statute of the ICC in our own respective countries.  Well, here we are today.

What do we hope to accomplish in these two days of consultation?  May I suggest that firstly, we try and share our experiences, both positive and negative, in trying to seek the ratification of the Rome Statute of the ICC in our own countries?  Secondly, that we build from what we have today a regular and growing network of Asian MPs involved in the study and exchange of literature on the ICC and related matters on human rights, human security and the rule of law. Thirdly, as Tadashi and I had earlier discussed, we take this opportunity to prepare for the PGA 4th Consultative Assembly which will take place in Tokyo this coming December?  I believe these three suggestions are themselves enough to fill up two days of rich discussion and consultation.

Thank you and Mabuhay  to you all.

Etta P. Rosales
Deputy Minority Leader,
Akbayan Representative
House of Representatives
Philippines

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