President Rodrigo Duterte can unilaterally withdraw the country’s membership from the International Criminal Court even without a concurrence from the Senate, according to a lawyer aspiring for the post of associate justice in the Supreme Court.
During a public interview conducted by the Judicial and Bar Council on Thursday, lawyer and mediator Rita Linda Jimeno said Duterte can unilaterally withdraw from the Rome Statute, agreeing that the chief executive can apply the principle of “rebus sic stantibus.”
“Yes, Your Honor,” Jimeno replied. “Because under that principle, if there are substantial changes in the circumstances which would then completely change what was agreed upon, then the president may withdraw from a treaty that was earlier signed by him and even affirmed or ratified by the Senate.”
The legal doctrine of “rebus sic stantibus” allows for a treaty to become inapplicable if there has been a substantial change in the circumstances upon which it was founded.
In withdrawing the Philippines from the ICC, Duterte cited as reason the “baseless, unprecedented and outrageous attacks” against him by United Nations officials, as well as the attempt by the international court to place him within its jurisdiction, in an alleged violation of his right to due process and presumption of innocence.
Consolidated petitions have been filed with the Supreme Court seeking to declare as unconstitutional the Presidents’ decision to withdraw from ICC for lack of Senate’s approval.
The Constitution requires the concurrence of two-thirds of the Senate for a treaty to be “valid and effective,” but it is silent on whether or not a withdrawal is bound by the same rule.
Particularly referring to the case of the intended withdrawal from the ICC, Jimeno said the executive can do so under the rebus sic stantibus doctrine even without Senate concurrence.
Jimeno is one of 12 nominees vying for associate justice post vacated by retired Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, who was appointed chief justice last August.
Jimeno is one of only three candidates who are not incumbent justices of the Court of Appeals.
Meanwhile, Jimeno described the current state of affairs at the Supreme Court as more stable.
“Compared to how it was before, it is now more stable and more calm in the eyes of the public because there are no longer disputes questioning the appropriateness or propriety of one justice sitting as a justice of the Supreme Court,” the lady lawyer said.
Jimeno added that the strength of the Court is its resilience, claiming it had withstood a “series of crises” while maintaining its integrity and completing its work in the “most sober manner.”
Jimeno also said that she did not think the Court could be swayed by whims and caprices.
Aside from Jimeno, the other aspirants include Sandiganbayan justice Alex Quiroz, CA justices Oscar Badelles, Manuel Barrios, Apolinario Bruselas, Jr., Rosmari Carandang, Stephen Cruz, Edgardo delos Santos, Japar Dimaampao, Ramon D.R. Garcia, Amy Lazaro-Javier, and former Ateneo Law School dean Cesar Villanueva.
Jimeno, a University of the Philippines law graduate, is managing partner at the Jimeno Cope & David Law Offices, the associate dean of the Centro Escolar University law school, and is a Supreme Court-accredited mediator.