Press Release
October 15, 2008


Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, chair of the Senate foreign affairs committee, said that the upcoming US presidential elections will likely result in US policy changes on the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the ratification of the Rome Statute creating the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Santiago said that if Barak Obama is elected, it is likely he will take a more pro-Filipino position on the issue concerning the presence of US soldiers in the Philippines under the RP-US VFA.

"Obama grew up in Indonesia , and has been presumably inculcated with the Asian desire for full sovereignty in his nation's territory, unhampered by any controversial presence of visiting forces," the senator explained.

Santiago is also pushing for Senate concurrence on the Rome Statute creating the ICC. Under the Constitution, a treaty or international agreement must be concurred in by at least two-thirds of the members of the Senate to be binding on the Philippines .

The ICC is an independent and permanent court that tries persons accused of the most serious crimes of international concern, namely genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression.

The Bush administration has refused to ratify the Rome Statute on the ground that it is harmful to US national interests and "legitimate activities" of the US military abroad.

Santiago believes that a change in US leadership will likely pave the way for US ratification of the Rome Statute.

"Even under the Bush administration, the US seems to be rethinking its policy to favor the Rome Statue because of the situation in Sudan ," Santiago said.

The US government under Bush has acknowledged that the ICC may be the only effective tool for bringing accountability for the atrocities in Darfur .

Santiago also noted that since 2003, the Bush administration has issued no statement against the Rome Statute.

Like the US , the Philippines has yet to ratify the Rome Statute. Malacañang still has to transmit the treaty to the Senate for ratification even though the Philippines has been a signatory of the treaty since 28 December 2005.

Santiago today filed Senate Resolution No. 710 urging President Arroyo to transmit the Rome Statute to the Senate for ratification proceedings.

In 2005, the Supreme Court ruled in the case of Pimentel v. Office of the Executive Secretary that neither the Senate nor the Supreme Court can compel the President to transmit the signed text of the Rome Statute to the Senate. The President has sole discretion in initiating the ratification proceedings of a treaty.

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