Press Release
August 14, 2010


Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, noting the liberal attitudes of US President Barack Obama and his commitment to international law, urged President Benigno Aquino III to send to the Senate for ratification the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Santiago personally met with President Obama during the presidential state visit during which the US president reportedly called Santiago "a very powerful woman."

The senator also said in her Senate Resolution No. 85 that the change in the leadership in the Philippines and in the United States would pave the way for the ratification of the Rome Statute.

The policy of Malacañang with regard to the Rome Statute has been in line with the position of the US. The US under the Bush administration did not ratify the Rome Statute. With new presidents leading both countries, we can expect expedience in the statute's ratification," Santiago said.

US President Obama has acknowledged in media interviews that the ICC has "pursued charges only in cases of the most serious and systematic crimes and it is in America's interests that these most heinous of criminals, like the perpetrators of the genocide in Darfur, are held accountable. These actions are a credit to the cause of justice and deserve full American support and cooperation."

"This is the first test for the President Aquino before the international community. It will be a bold move for the new Aquino administration to initiate the concurrence of the Rome Statute ahead of its ally the US," Santiago said.

Santiago expressed hope that President Aquino will transmit to the Senate the Rome Statute for concurrence, almost ten years after the Philippines became one of its signatories. The Senate has requested the statute's transmittal of the Rome Statute since 2006.

The Rome Statute provides that the ICC shall be a permanent institution and shall have the power to exercise its jurisdiction over persons for the most serious crimes of international concern, namely genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. It entered into force in July 2002 after the 60th instrument of ratification, and now has the support of more than half of the world's nations.

The Philippines was among the active participants in the 1998 United Nations Conference in Rome, Italy, and became a signatory to the Rome Statute in December 2000.

"It is the fundamental duty of the Philippines as articulated in the Constitution and international law to protect human rights, especially the right to life and human dignity; thus, the issue of ratification of the Rome Statute is one of transcendental importance," Santiago said.

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