THE COUNTRY’S Highest Court said in a ruling released Wednesday that it is beyond its authority to reverse President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s decision to withdraw the Philippines from the International Criminal Court (ICC).   

Nevertheless, the Supreme Court (SC) said the government must still cooperate with the ICC’s investigation on alleged human rights violations in Mr. Duterte’s anti-drug campaign.  

The unanimous decision, penned by Associate Justice Marvic M.V.F. Leonen with 14 justices concurring, is contained in the full text of the ruling dismissing the petitions against the withdrawal from ICC. 

In the 106-page decision dated March 16 and published on July 21, the Supreme Court said the Philippines, “even if it has deposited the instrument of withdrawal, it shall not be discharged from any criminal proceedings.”   

The high court further explained that the petitions against the withdrawal were “moot and academic” because the President is allowed by the Constitution anytime “to make preliminary determinations on what… might be urgently required” to make the country’s foreign policy in line with national interests.  

It added that “interference and ruling on what course of action to take would mean an imposition” of the Supreme Court’s will on the executive branch of government as well as on the ICC itself, which “is not the function of this Court.”  

It also held that Mr. Duterte’s withdrawal from ICC “was in accordance with the mechanism provided in the treaty.” 

It further stated that despite the withdrawal, “this Court finds no lesser protection of human rights within our system of laws,” and that the high court disagrees with the petitioners’ statements that the judiciary will not be able to fulfill its mandate of protecting human rights without the treaty.  

The petitions filed in 2018 asserted that the Senate did not concur with Mr. Duterte’s decision, which is a requirement under the Rome Statute. Among the petitioners were Senators Francis N. Pangilinan, Franklin M. Drilon, and Ana Theresia N. Hontiveros-Baraquel; former senators Paolo Benigno A. Aquino IV and Antonio F. Trillanes IV; and the Philippine Coalition for the International Criminal Courts. — Bianca Angelica D. Añago