Daily Tribune Cartoon

Terminal paranoia

“In his paranoia, Trillanes believes that he is being set up for a possible hit. Manufacturing ghosts is the expertise of Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and now he seems to be running away from such apparitions. Trillanes was wailing all over media last Saturday complaining that his security escorts were pulled out by both the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Fores of the Philippines (AFP). He said all that he has now are “Magdalo soldiers” to look after his safety. His statement immediately drew the necessary question: How many escorts does Trillanes need that it would take the AFP, the PNP and his own Magdalo rebels to make him feel secure? Based on Trillanes’ count, he has eight in his security detail which can be quite a conservative estimate since he moves around in a convoy that rivals even that of President Rodrigo Duterte. The law provides that he can only have a maximum of four escorts as a senator. PNP spokesperson Senior Supt. Benigno Durana, spokesman for the PNP, said Trillanes still had six bodyguards even without the two police officers. Two of Trillanes’ escorts were from the Special Detail Unit of the AFP, another two from the Philippine Navy and two more from the Senate Security Bureau. Durana said under the Alunan doctrine the PNP follows, government officials are allowed only two bodyguards. While denying that it has anything to do with the removal of the police escorts, the Palace said Trillanes has one too many security personnel. Considering that Mr. Duterte had ordered the judicious use of public funds, Trillanes should be given only escorts provided by law and not to assuage his growing paranoia. Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said police officers could be of better use in fighting crime rather than soothing Trillanes’ unfounded fears. While nobody asked about it, he told an audience in a public forum at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City that his supporters should not worry about his safety. “I know how to take care of myself. I’m OK at the least. I know God has a plan,” the senator said. “Police officers could be of better use in fighting crime. He added he is a fatalist and that he does not care about the government withdrawing his escorts. Trillanes sure was not complaining since he was on television and radio the whole day Saturday about his allegations the government had removed his security personnel. While he was at it complaining, he was also pleading for the PNP and AFP to reconsider their decision to pull out his bodyguards. The recall of PNP security personnel assigned to politicians has, however, started last January. The PNP had said politicians who fear for their safety can hire private agents from accredited security agencies, but such requests will have to be processed with the PNP. Trillanes apparently is breaking cold sweats over the loss of his escorts due to the scenarios he has been creating, including ascribing to Rody the recent spate of killings of local officials. In his paranoia, Trillanes believes that he is being set up for a possible hit, which is a fear that Rody even fed during a Cebu City speech earlier, claiming that somebody might be tempted to shoot his arch critic due to his arrogance. That speech, of course, is mere banter from the President to his audience for which he had been known. All the pretensions of courage by Trillanes have been stripped away while he exposed his dread of being left open with the removal of his excess security. Trillanes is becoming the pathetic victim of the same ghosts he is conjuring to frighten the overwhelming people who still give their trust in Rody.

Who’s namby-pamby?

“Magdalo gained a reputation as a ‘gang which could not shoot straight.’ Sen. Antonio Trillanes is all talk, his words have nothing but hot air. Take this case: He called President Rodrigo Duterte a “coward,” a branding that quickly backfired. Who’s the certifiable coward when the senator has been cackling like hen over the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) stripping him of “excess guards?” What part of “excess” did Trillanes find hard to understand? In the first place, why need PNP and AFP guards over and above what other politicians are assigned with? If Trillanes claims he’s tough and brave by branding others cowards, he could let go of the four bodyguards provided him by PNP and AFP. That’s what a brave man will do. If he is too cocky about his Magdalo bodyguards’ protection, then he should stick with his pals. After all, hasn’t Magdalo gained a reputation as a “gang which could not shoot straight” for its pathetic attempts at bringing down then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo? What’s that idiomatic expression? “Birds of a feather flock together?” Here we have a senator who, as a desk-bound Navy officer, led a coup d’ etat against Arroyo but went after a hotel and not the seat of power — Malacañang. Can anything be funnier than that? Again who’s the real coward when Trillanes, in a one-on-one on the Senate floor with Manong Johnny Enrile, stormed and chickened out of the debate over his secret trips to China as the errand boy of then President Noynoy Aquino? Enough talk of cojones though. When speaking of Trillanes, the real beef against him is his treasonous selling out of Philippine interest at the West Philippine Sea (WPS) on behalf of the yellow president Noynoy. As Enrile bared in 2012 and reiterated in exclusive interviews with Concept News Central and the Daily Tribune, the Philippine Navy was ordered to stand down from an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation with China and to pull out from WPS after these secret trips. In time of war, treason merits a firing squad. For that, no bodyguard can save one who sold out Philippine interest to regional power China.

Close ties positive

\"China can cripple the country\'s energy imports.\" The stock index went up a day after the banners sprung up in Metro Manila welcoming people to the “Philippines, province of China.” Market pundits jokingly attributed it to Chinese businessmen taking to heart the streamer as an indication of brotherhood. The Philippine Stock Exchange indicator gained 0.66 percent, or 48.60 points, to 7,399.18 points. The trade volume reached P5.455 billion last Friday indicating brisk trade. The political message of the banner, in fact, is lost if not placed in context with the anniversary of the 2016 arbitral ruling that invalidated China’s nine-dash line claim over the West Philippine Sea (WPS). Welcome to China’s Philippines, inscribed in Chinese, also sounded a lot like the term good Filipino-American relations which the US-based yellow financial supporters proudly wave as their license to intrude into domestic affairs. The aim of President Rodrigo Duterte’s detractors, of course, was to drum up outrage through the tarpaulins and blame him for China’s aggressive buildup and reclamation in the WPS. Rody’s independent foreign policy has resulted in a more intimate diplomatic relations with China which the pro-American yellow mob and the scheming Red brigade spun as a sellout of the country’s sovereignty. The real sellout, however, was the previous administration’s accession to the whims of the American government in the conduct of former President Barack Obama’s Asian pivot, including former President Noynoy Aquino’s refusal to sit down and negotiate with the Chinese. The WPS standoff started after Noynoy sent a Navy warship to Scarborough shoal to round up Chinese poachers to which China responded by sending civilian vessels that never left the area. Incidentally, the decommissioned Hamilton-class cutter of the US Coast Guard -- which was renamed BRP Gregorio del Pilar -- was newly acquired from the administration of former US President Barack Obama that caused the confrontation. Another coincidence was that Obama then was trying to justify his Asian pivot policy. Noynoy chose the path of third-party arbitration that indeed resulted in a favorable ruling for the Philippines but it was a decision that can’t be enforced since China did not recognize the process. Former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said taking a confrontational approach against China would expose the country to dire repercussions in a long-drawn adversarial relations that do not include war. China, for instance, can use its growing global influence to apply pressure on the Philippines such as in the supply of fuel from Middle East countries which have close relations with it. “The real sellout, however, was the previous administration’s accession to the whims of the American government.” “China can cripple the country’s energy imports if it wants to,” Enrile said. Rody’s pragmatic approach is to develop close relations with the country’s neighbor while not surrendering the country’s sovereignty claims. The President, from the start, had known a six-year term would not allow him to face long-term repercussions in his foreign policy. Closer ties with China means benefits from the Asian economic powerhouse that the country is slowly realizing but the Chinese can still improve on. Enrile’s views mirror that of 62 percent of respondents in a recent Pulse Asia survey who approve of Rody’s policy towards China. The June 15-25 survey, commissioned by the Albert del Rosario Institute, in line with the second anniversary of the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s ruling also had 73 percent saying the arbitral award should be used as a leverage against China. Rody had indeed used the award to the hilt in extracting concessions from China. His open-ended strategy of often reminding China that sometime during his term, he would raise the arbitral award had been effective in securing financial and other help from the Chinese government. Add to this his enunciated position that the Chinese buildup is not directed against the Philippines but is an offshoot of the power play between China and the US. Rody’s position puts both the Americans and the Chinese on their toes in terms of improving relations with the Philippines. The country stands to gain nothing but untold sufferings if it insists on China a ruling that it had not recognized from the start. Enrile said the country can’t afford a military face off with the mighty Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Rody’s remaining four years can be best put to good use by keeping China engaged in a dialogue which, anyway, is an expected manner among neighbors.

Rogue regime

“Midstream, Noynoy also created the unconstitu- tional DAP which was supposedly a source of stimulus fund but turned out to be a slush fund.” The vicious cycle of unconstitutionality under the regime of former President Noynoy Aquino was completed with the assessment of legal experts that the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) violates the Charter and won’t stand up to Supreme Court (SC) scrutiny. The first and last significant executive acts of Noynoy were all considered not in accordance with the Basic Law that speaks a lot about the character of the yellow President and his amateur administration. In December 2010, the SC declared unconstitutional Noynoy’s Executive Order 1 creating the Philippine Truth Commission as the High Court ruled it “violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution” by focusing on the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Noynoy created the Truth Commission to investigate solely the alleged scandals under the nine-year Arroyo administration. It was supposed to be headed by former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. Now comes the assessment at a meeting among legal advisers of the Palace, security officials and leaders of Congress that the CAB, which was a document signed between the administration of Noynoy and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), should be stricken out of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) for being unconstitutional. The Senate version carried the CAB which, according to senators, was done to honor the agreement with the MILF. Among the controversial BBL sections adopted from the CAB was the opt-in provision which in the Senate version allows 39 barangays in North Cotabato and six towns in Lanao del Norte to join the Bangsamoro region following a plebiscite. The House version of the BBL has a similar provision but stipulates that local government units may only join the Bangsamoro region if their mother province or town also votes in favor of inclusion. The proposed Bangsamoro seeks to include the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, parts of Lanao del Norte, the cities of Cotabato and Isabela, and other regions which may volunteer to join the territory. President Rodrigo Duterte made the final decision to strike it off by adopting the House version of the bill that did not contain it. The late Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago had warned the CAB violated sovereignty since it would create a Bangsamoro substate. “In December 2010, the SC declared unconstitutional Noynoy’s Executive Order 1 creating the Philippine Truth Commission.” Santiago said among the unconstitutional provisions is the creation of a ministerial form of government which is distinct from the entire country that exists as a republic under a presidential government. Legislators said allowing Bangsamoro to assimilate provinces will be a dangerous precedent since it may lead to other provinces or local groups either representing ethnicity or political belief to demand a separate state “on the petition of 10 percent of the constituents” of a province. Former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Vicente Mendoza also said Congress does not have the authority to pass certain provisions of the BBL because of their patent unconstitutionality such as the reference in the bill of the autonomous region as “territory and ancestral homeland” of the Bangsamoro people which he said is contrary to the Constitution. “The term territory is defined as a part of country separated from the rest and under the jurisdiction of another country, such as the Philippines was an unincorporated territory of US, part of US and separated before independence,” Mendoza said. Midstream, Noynoy also created the unconstitutional DAP, which was supposedly a source of stimulus fund but turned out to be a slush fund to support the political agenda of the Liberal Party. It was exposed as a tool in the Senate impeachment court to convict former Chief Justice Renato Corona. The DAP, which in some estimates used up P200 billion of funds diverted from the budget, was also called the Presidential pork barrel of Noynoy. Budget Secretary Ben Diokno who was among the fiercest opponent of the DAP, during oral arguments held at the SC, described the DAP as a colossal laundering machine where “savings” are cleansed, dried, pressed and then reissued as new authorities to spend for programs, projects and activities that have not gone through prior congressional review. Unconstitutional acts from the start, in mid-term and up to the end indicate that Noynoy and his administration either did not know better or that they are patently illegal in their ways.

Day of rectification

“The efforts to influence the Church were apparent in the yellow line of lumping all the recent turn of events, including the killings of priests.” The never-ending campaign to demonize President Rody Duterte was again in full throttle after the landmark meeting between Rody and Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) President Romulo Valles which was positive in all angles but it turned out differently in foreign media. The meeting was an occasion for reconciliation but, lo and behold, the reports, obviously spoon fed to foreign media, were about a “public feud between President Rodrigo Duterte and the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines” having “intensified.” “Church leaders pushed back against criticism of priests and called for a national day of prayers and fasting” according to a report of the Washington Post. The article added the “overwhelmingly Catholic country has been riveted in recent weeks by a clash between the popular president and a powerful institution that has sought to maintain its traditional moral authority while under a barrage of criticisms.” Likewise, yellow Vice President Leni Robredo immediately called for a press briefing the next day that the pastoral letter was issued using the CBCP as weapon against Rody. Valles, however, said the informal meeting between him and Rody had no set agenda and that he mostly “played it by ear” apparently since both Davao City natives were familiar with each other. The scenes prior and after the meeting between Rody and Valles did not show any “intensified” rifts but it was more of two friends renewing their bonds. Sifting through the communications from both the Church, the CBCP and the Palace, the most critical call was from the pastoral letter that, in so many words, urged mutual respect. In the CBCP letter propitiously titled “Rejoice and Be Glad!” there was a statement urging the faithful to do penance but most part of it was on the delineation of the Church-State divide. “The church respects the political authority, especially of democratically-elected government officials, as long as they do not contradict the basic spirit and moral principles we hold dear, such as respect for the sacredness of life, the integrity of creation and the inherent dignity of the human person,” the CBCP said in the letter signed by Valles. The pastoral statement was the result of the three-day CBCP Plenary Assembly which ended on Monday. Pasig Bishop Mylo Vergara said the Church and the government should not be political opponents. “The government when it is concerned about the poorest of the poor, we are its allies,” he added. The efforts to influence the Church were apparent in the yellow line of lumping all the recent turn of events, including the killings of priests, to the tough anti-crime policies of Rody. The Palace, however, noted the restraint in the CBCP pastoral letter. “There was no outright condemnation. So I thought the Church was avoiding an outright confrontation with this pastoral letter,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said. A better relationship, not only between the Duterte administration and the Church but also with everyone is expected after Rody and Valles cleared the air between them. The most significant result of the meeting was an agreement to exercise restraint in statements involving faith on one hand and government policies on the other. The goal is to have a productive relations between the Church and the government which follows the biblical teaching of “rendering to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.” Of course the yellow mob would have it differently as it schemes against Rody to bring him down by recruiting the help of some ambitious Church leaders. Valles was right in his pastoral letter that respect is necessary to keep the Church and State relations on the balance.

Among lawyers

“Rody said the obligation of the government to protect its citizens is paramount and that no arrest is being made in the police operations.”   President Rodrigo Duterte’s tussle with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) over the government’s drive vs street loafers citing parens patriae shows that his acts, harsh as they may look to some, are always based on law. The head of the IBP, which is the umbrella group of lawyers in the country, said the campaign was illegal. Duterte, who has been a long-time prosecutor in Davao City, immediately shot back at Abdiel Fajardo, IBP national president, invoking the parens patriae doctrine in which the State has the obligation to be a guardian to citizens who are not capable of fending for themselves. The State, in going after the loiterers, are protecting them from becoming unproductive members of society or worse, taking the road to perdition as criminals based on Rody’s argument. The IBP had joined human rights groups in protesting the drive, saying that it is tantamount to undertaking warrantless arrests. Fajardo said the verbal orders in the arrests of loiterers is illegal since a document is needed stating the nature of the offense as the basis of the arrest. Fajardo said the actions on loiterers are considered arrests and not invitations since those who are rounded up cannot refuse being brought to the police stations. Rody said the obligation of the government to protect its citizens is paramount and that no arrest is being made in the police operations since the tambays are all released later. He even invited the IBP to challenge the campaign with the Supreme Court. “You not — do not deprive government of its power and reduce us to inutility. We are both lawyers. Let’s see who has more knowledge of the law,” Duterte said. Parens patriae, according to Rody, is a “very sacred obligation of government to help the helpless.” “Tambays are being used for criminal activities.” The helpless as Rody would have it are those who hang out on the streets all day, which, indeed, is the worst that can happen to a nation in terms of the use of its manpower needed to drive the economy. “Because of their tender age, we are not going to arrest them. We have to take them out physically,” he added. The worry of most, including Rody, is that the tambays who are mostly minors are being used for criminal activities such as making them drug couriers often with support from their parents. Duterte, as he would often cite in his many past speeches, said it is the government’s duty to protect the people of the Republic of the Philippines and preserve the nation. The still high trust and performance ratings of Rody based on the periodic surveys are the result of his resolute actions against crime and the condition that encourages it to breed such as disorder on the streets. Always, however, human rights and other civic groups would be constantly at his back using arguments supplied by the yellow mob. Rody’s simple but effective vow that handed him the trust of voters and the presidency was to make the country’s streets safe for citizens to walk on even at night. In Metro Manila, if not for several roadworks that limit travel, the volume of vehicles traveling at night, even beyond midnight, had remarkably increased, indicating that more people are going out. Unlike past leaders who used similar promises to put order on the streets as sound bites and part of the usual campaign rhetorics, Rody chose to act on it. The results are evident from the unrelenting public support being given to Rody. It is not rocket science to understand Rody’s choice between listening to his yellow critics and to continue performing the mandate given to him.

No time for complacency

“Nothing will happen if we will not cut corruption.” With impatience on the pace of government services palpable, President Rody Duterte in Davao City last Friday evening fired off a warning against his fellow public servants on backsliding to the indifference of the previous regime. The lethargy of the past had led to the failure of majority of Filipinos to rise from poverty and Rody may have felt that after two years of instituting reforms, complacency is setting in. The pace of reforms and project implementation is crucial to Rody who has the burning purpose of a vastly improved life for Filipinos during his six-year term. The administration has recorded remarkable improvements in the economy, but these all fall short of Rody’s expectations and his timetable for change. A Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey last March showed families who rate themselves as poor fell to 42 percent from 44 percent in December. The same SWS survey found the number of families who consider themselves as having not enough food to eat was a survey record low of 29 percent. The unemployment rate in April was also lower at 5.5 percent from 5.7 percent a year ago. Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said the jobless rate was the lowest recorded for April which usually shows a high number due to new graduates that join the labor force. Economic managers also issued a joint statement saying inflation rate for the first half went slightly off target at 4.3 percent due to the rise in prices of rice, fuel and fish, but it is expected to taper off when policy reforms are fully implemented. “Now Rody wants the public to be proactive in demanding the best from public officials.” Rody had set two critical targets in his administration which are removing corrupt practices in government and for public service to be effective in uplifting the economic condition of majority of Filipinos. Rody said he was not satisfied with the slow-moving projects, such as road constructions, saying he would not spare even members of the Cabinet from accountability over the shortcomings. “If you delay or (commit) a slippage of 20 percent -- you’re out and I will cancel your contracts,” Rody said. The speed of the projects is, indeed, crucial. For instance, the traffic jams that Rody particularly detested had worsened due to the simultaneous projects being set up under the Build, Build, Build program. The irony is that these projects seek to address what they are causing right now which are the inconveniences to commuters caused by congested roads. Corruption contributes to the projects being below standard as Rody said his policy moving forward would be for projects to be completed on schedule. Projects do face delays when these are subjected to probes on allegations of corrupt practices. “Nothing will happen if we will not cut corruption,” Duterte said. He cited instances in the award of projects to contractors who do not have capital to fund the project, who lack materials and workers and who have no clear credit line. Rody had indicated his disapproval of the lowest bid as main criterion in public auctions as he said this has been exploited in the theft of government funds. Now Rody wants the public to be proactive in demanding the best from public officials. He gave as an example unfinished projects that result in accidents. “Make it a criminal issue,” Rody said as he encouraged Filipinos to sue government for inconveniences and injuries from sloppy work from government. “If you fall or (get a) bump because it (project) is unlighted, uncovered, sue government,” he said. He promised to complement such action by also suing the project engineer and ask the Cabinet secretary to explain. “Unless we cut down on graft and corruption, this country will never progress within the next 30 years,” Duterte said. He estimated at the rate reforms and projects are proceeding, it would take 70 years for the country to catch up with its progressive Asian neighbors. Rody’s impatience, thus, makes sense since he wants to see the country progress in his lifetime.

Rody’s BBL crucible

“The Senate and the House, which are both dominated by Rody’s allies, assured the public the final BBL version could withstand ‘legal scrutiny.’” A chicken-and-egg situation has emerged in the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) and the Federal Charter. The answer to which comes first would be crucial in the success of both signature programs of President Rody Duterte. The Palace wanted the BBL ahead of the Federal Charter and administration allies in Congress said the law can be passed before Rody’s third State of the Nation Address (Sona) on July 23. A BBL within this month will certainly be a cause for celebration among those who had hoped for autonomy for the Muslim provinces which include Rody but experts warned that it would lead to bitter legal skirmishes. Even putting the best efforts to make features of the bill constitutional, experts in Muslim Mindanao affairs believe it will still run into painful and long-drawn litigations. Several law experts said the BBL and the 1987 Constitution can’t be reconciled and the best option would be to wait for the crafting of the Federal Charter to accommodate the provisions of the autonomy law. Certain autonomy provisions such as the contentious opt-in clause makes many legislators apprehensive about the constitutionality of the BBL. The questioned provision allows several areas to submit a resolution or petition signed by 10 percent of their registered voters to be allowed to join the region. Also, the provision that would automatically transfer to the proposed Bangsamoro region the several municipalities of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is considered unconstitutional. Legislators said the Supreme Court (SC) already stated in a ruling the need for a plebiscite in individual provinces to be able to join the ARMM which the BBL seeks to replace with the Bangsamoro region. The Senate and the House, which are both dominated by Rody’s allies, assured the public the final BBL version could withstand “legal scrutiny.” While the assertion could be true, the bill could be subjected to endless challenges that could defeat the aim of the BBL providing the solution to the Muslim autonomy problem. Rody has shown impatience on having an autonomy law that will cure the defects in ARMM and grant the self-determination that Muslim Filipinos had long sought. A BBL in place before the Federal Constitution would also make the Bangsamoro region a model for the Federal regions. University of the Philippines (UP) professor and political analyst Chito Avecilla said the approval of a Federal Constitution will make the BBL moot and academic. Those who have thoroughly examined the BBL bill also said many of its provisions can only be executed under Federalism. Proponents of Federalism, for their part, said the BBL can be incorporated in the new Constitution and have it included in the plebiscite. Rody’s sense of urgency on the BBL is logical, however, after the nation underwent the destructive Marawi City siege staged by pro-Islamic State (IS) forces. He had warned the threat would not subside unless genuine autonomy was granted to Filipino Muslims. Recent military encounters provide solid evidence several IS groups remain and foreign elements, mainly Malaysians, have been active in propagating in Mindanao the dreaded fundamentalist Islamic ideology of the IS. Most of the IS recruits come from Muslim regions who are frustrated by the delayed promise of enhanced autonomy. The narrow options given to Rody, thus, is for him to work for the early passage of the BBL and worry about the imminent legal challenges or wait for the Federal Charter and risk more discontent that would be a breeding ground for the evil schemes of the IS. Rody apparently believes he is better off fighting the loud politicians around him who are against the BBL rather than face the prospect of explaining to Filipinos if another attack from the IS comes. With such tough problems facing him, it is easy to sympathize with Rody on his yearning to finish the pledges he made to Filipinos and for him to return to peace and quiet in his native Davao City.

Yellows’ desperate gambit

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is holding a long-drawn process on the complaint against President Rody Duterte, and his detractors are hoping to capitalize on such lengthy period for propaganda mileage in the ultimate goal of ousting the popular leader. The “crime against humanity” plea with the ICC was filed by Rody’s chief critics, lawyer Jude Sabio, Magdalo Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and Rep. Gary Alejano. Proof that his foes intend to squeeze political juice out of the ICC filing was the yellow senators’ petition with the Supreme Court for detained Sen. Leila de Lima to argue the plea to invalidate Rody’s order for the Philippines’ withdrawal from the Rome Statute that created the ICC. De Lima, who is detained for serious drug trafficking charges, was named as lead counsel of the senators in the SC petition. Last March 15, the government notified the UN secretary general that the Philippines was withdrawing from the Rome Statute, which it ratified in 2011. The SC has consolidated two petitions seeking to void the Philippine government’s withdrawal from the Rome Statute and had set oral arguments on August 7. One petition was filed by opposition Senators Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, Franklin Drilon, Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino, de Lima, Risa Hontiveros and Trillanes, while the other was filed by a group that campaigned for the country’s accession to the statute. The minority senators’ argument is based on Article VII Section 21 of the 1987 Constitution, which states “entering into treaty or international agreement requires participation of Congress, that is, through concurrence of at least 2/3 of all the members of the Senate.” Their contention is that a move to back out from an agreement would also have to get Senate concurrence in contrast to the Palace position that pulling out of the ICC is a presidential prerogative. The legal tussle at the SC will also be an outcrop of the ICC case against Rody, which experts on international relations said could take years, even beyond the President’s term that ends in 2022. Nehginpao Kipgen, Associate Professor and Executive Director at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies (CSEAS), said in a Bangkok Post article that ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, who announced in February the start of a preliminary investigation into the complaint, would have to first seek approval from international judges if she wishes to open a formal investigation. The decision process would not be done immediately as Kipgen said, since during the announcement of the preliminary investigation, “there has not been any significant development or progress” on the complaint. The lack of ICC action was likely the reason for the yellow senators to look for another venue, which is the SC, to keep up the pressure on Rody and his war on drugs. “It is unlikely, or at least it will be very difficult, to conduct any kind of comprehensive investigation into alleged crimes against humanity,” Kipgen said. Though the government has notified the UN secretary-general of its withdrawal, it takes a year to become effective. The Palace, however, argued that technically, the Philippines has never joined the ICC because it was not announced in the country’s Official Gazette. Kipgen, in turn, said the government submitted a letter to the UN secretary-general for the country’s withdrawal, which was an acknowledgment of its ICC membership. “Though it may not happen while Mr. Duterte is still in power, the court proceeding can possibly continue,” he added. The yellow gambit is that the ICC petition would become the pivotal element for the oust-Duterte movement, while at the same time provide a useful smokescreen as more of the excesses of Noynoy and his yellow cabal are unearthed. The ICC case had little to do with accountability. It is largely another desperate gimmick of the yellow mob to erode Rody’s popularity, which remains overwhelming two years after he assumed the presidency.
Scroll to top