Philippines accedes to treaty boosting anti-crime efforts

Posted on March 07, 2011

THE PHILIPPINES has acceded to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), boosting the country’s efforts to uphold international humanitarian laws, and in time for today’s arrival of ICC President Sang-Hyun Song in the country, the Palace said yesterday.

President Benigno S. C. Aquino III last Feb. 28 signed the Instrument of Ratification of the 1998 treaty drafted by 120 states, including the Philippines, and has requested Senate concurrence.

The Senate is the government’s treaty-ratifying body.

In a statement, Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa, Jr. said ICC is the first permanent institution to exercise jurisdiction over persons committing crimes of international concerns such as genocide, war and aggression.

"Ratification of the Rome Statute enhances Philippine commitment to human rights and is our contribution to an effective international criminal justice system," Mr. Ochoa said.

It also complements Republic Act 9851 or the Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide and Other Crimes Against Humanity which was signed into law in December 2009.

The ratification of the ICC followed a recommendation from the Department of Justice, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Department of Defense last September.

Protection of OFWs

Assistant Secretary Jose Eduardo E. Malaya III, DFA spokesperson, said in a text message that the ratification of ICC will ensure the observance of laws of armed conflict not only in the Philippines but around the world, and provide a framework for the protection of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in strife-torn countries.

Safety and security of OFWs in Libya has been the main concern of late by the government given deteriorating peace and order conditions arising from civilian unrest aimed at toppling long-time leader Moamer Kadhafi.

The DFA said last week that over 9,000 of the 26,000 estimated OFWs in Libya have exited the country, some of whom have returned to the Philippines. -- Ana Mae G. Roa