Opposition senators have asked their detained colleague, Leila de Lima, to represent them in oral arguments in the Supreme Court on the senators’ petition questioning the legality of President Duterte’s decision to withdraw from the Rome Statute on the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The senators had asked the court to invalidate Mr. Duterte’s decision because it was done without concurrence of the Senate, the government’s treaty-ratifying body.
The court set oral arguments on the petition on July 24.
De Lima, one of the President’s most vocal critics, is detained on drug charges that she said were trumped up.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said his colleagues in the minority bloc had asked De Lima to be their counsel of record and to represent the group in the oral arguments, although she had yet to respond to the request.
They chose her to argue their case because of her background as former justice secretary and chair of the Commission on Human Rights, Drilon said.
Drilon, at the Kapihan sa Senado forum, said he saw no reason De Lima could not argue the case.
“Physically, she must be allowed to argue for us. She is our counsel of choice,” he said.
He said that appearing before the Supreme Court would not violate the order of a lower court to detain De Lima.
“She appears before the Supreme Court, she continues to be under the custody of the court,” he said.
“Appearing before the Supreme Court is only a continuation of her custody by the courts,” he said.
Six opposition senators, in their petition, said Mr. Duterte’s withdrawal from the Rome Statute needed Senate concurrence.
The statute is a treaty ratified by the Senate and repealing it needed Senate concurrence, Drilon said.
President Duterte announced the country’s withdrawal from the statute in March after the ICC prosecutor said she would begin a preliminary probe of a complaint alleging that the President committed crimes against humanity in his bloody war on drugs.
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