RETIRED Supreme Court Justice Antonio C. Carpio said the Senate should have insisted that President Rodrigo R. Duterte cannot unilaterally withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC) under the Roman Statute.    

“The Senate should have stood its ground at the very start,” Mr. Carpio said in an online forum on Wednesday organized by the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Law, UP Law Center’s Institute of International Legal Studies, and the Justice George Malcolm Foundation, Inc.  

Under Philippine law, concurrence of two-thirds of the Senate’s members is needed in international treaties.   

However, the Supreme Court ruled in a case filed by senators that the Senate “never sought to enforce what would have been its prerogative to require its concurrence for withdrawal.” A resolution filed seeking the Senate’s position on the need for concurrence with Mr. Duterte’s decision to withdraw was not prioritized by the legislative body.   

“The moment you wobble, you will lose it. This is exactly what happened here,” Mr. Carpio said.   

He added that the country’s Highest Court could take the opportunity to clarify issues related to its ruling on the ICC withdrawal when it decides on a pending case on the Philippines’ withdrawal from the Visiting Forces Agreement with the United States, even though Mr. Duterte had revoked his decision to withdraw.   

UP law professor Dante B. Gatmaytan further explained in the same forum that the High Court was wrong to rule that it cannot reverse Mr. Duterte’s decision on grounds that the Senate did not act on the resolution on the ICC withdrawal.   

In the case of the ICC withdrawal, Mr. Gatmayan said there was a violation of the Constitution, and the “exceptional character” and “public interest” are evident. — Bianca Angelica D. Añago