Manila, April 22, 2003 -- Legislators are taking aggressive steps to 
pressure Malacaņang to transmit at once the Rome Statute for the 
International Criminal Court (ICC) to the Senate for ratification.

Akbayan Rep. Loretta Ann Rosales said she and Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr. 
yesterday sought the intervention of the Supreme Court which could expedite 
the ratification of the Rome Statute for the ICC.

Rosales expressed belief that Malacaņang is deliberately sitting on the 
treaty because of the standing offer of the US government for military 
assistance. It was reported earlier that the administration of US President 
George W. Bush had been urging the Philippines not to ratify the statute. 
Instead, it asked the Philippines to sign an agreement that will exempt 
Americans from being prosecuted in the ICC.

The Rome Statute's objective is to prosecute perpetrators of genocide, 
crimes against humanity, war crimes and aggression in the event states fail 
to try the suspects. It created the ICC in 1998 through the efforts of 120 
nations, including the Philippines.

The statute had been signed by deposed President Joseph Estrada, but 
ratification from a 2/3 votes from all members of the Senate is needed 
before the country's accession to the treaty becomes valid and binding.

Malacaņang has been sitting on the Rome Statute for the ICC since October 
and has remained mum on the matter. Also last October, legislators filed a 
resolution asking President Arroyo to clarify her stand regarding the 
creation of the ICC, but to no avail.

Rosales said while the treaty came into force after the required 60 number 
of ratifications from other countries had been met, the Philippines' 
support is still needed.

The US was not among the nations that signed the creation of the ICC in 
Rome. It has refused to recognize the ICC's jurisdiction in a bid to 
protect its 9,000-strong military forces in nine countries from being 
subjected to trial.

The American government has also urged the Philippines and other nations to 
sign an agreement that will exempt its nationals from being prosecuted in 
the ICC in exchange for military and even financial assistance. Refusal to 
sign the US-imposed agreement would mean suspension of the aid.

Rosales expressed belief that the House and the Senate is being used to 
obstruct the ratification of the treaty.

The process in approving the Rome Statute is clearly stipulated in 
Executive Order 459, which states that the Executive Secretary should 
transmit the copy of the treaty signed by the President to the Department 
of Foreign Affairs, which, in turn, must submit the instrument to the 
Senate for deliberations.

Rosales and Pimentel are joined in the petition by a dozen law students and 
two human rights organizations actively campaigning for the ratification of 
the Rome Statute. (Dona Policar)

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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