Press Release
July 22, 2023

Tolentino: Burundi case a precedent on ICC's non-jurisdiction over PH

MANILA - Senator Francis 'TOL' N. Tolentino insisted that the previous ruling of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on the case of Burundi should serve as a precedent over the international tribunal's supposed non-jurisdiction in the Philippines.

In an interview with CNN Philippines, Tolentino said the ruling on the case filed by ICC prosecutors against Burundi in 2017 "was very explicit that the state has a duty to cooperate on cases which were commenced prior to the date when the withdrawal became effective."

Tolentino, chairman of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights explained that the ICC's ruling with regards to Burundi, which was also cited in the dissenting opinion by Presiding Judge Marc Perrin de Brichambaut of France and Judge Gocha Lordkipanidze of Georgia, stated that although the withdrawal does not affect any cooperation, any prosecution or investigation should commence prior to the date of the effectivity of the withdrawal.

Under the Burundi case, the withdrawal became effective only on October 27, 2018, a year after the said country withdrew from ICC.

In the case of the Philippines, Tolentino noted that the ICC investigation started only in 2021--two years after the Philippine government officially pulled out from the international tribunal in March 2019, thus, the case should no longer have any effect as far as the Burundi case is concerned.

"In our case, applying again the Burundi ruling since we withdrew 2018, effectively after 2019, the ICC no longer has jurisdiction," said Tolentino.

"So, lampas na talaga, we're no longer a member of the Rome Statute and even the article 127 of the Statute would be interpreted in that manner," he added.

Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra on Thursday announced that President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. already agreed to fully disengage from the ICC amid the international tribunal's Appeals Chamber's decision to continue with its probe over the anti-drug war campaign of the previous administration under former President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.

According to Tolentino, President Marcos' latest pronouncement is the proper thing to do since ICC no longer has jurisdiction over the Philippines following its withdrawal from the international tribunal.

"Dahil hindi nga po natin kinikilala yung jurisdiction ng ICC so hindi po dapat talaga humarap doon kahit um-advance po ito, huwag naman mangyari, itong investigation na gustong gawin ng prosecution, makarating sa pre-trial chamber," the senator said.

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