Value-Added Reports on ICC Withdrawal
Screengrab from ICC’s website.
CHEERS TO some media organizations for going beyond President Rodrigo Duterte’s announcement to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC) and providing relevant information about the issue.
A significant policy shift, the withdrawal which the president announced on Wednesday, March 14, deserved media scrutiny and analysis, along with the examination of procedural and technical aspects of the issue. The public also needed media to be able to discuss the context of the decision to withdraw from the ICC and review pronouncements and remarks in the past about petitions filed with the ICC about killings in the course of the drug war.
Rappler’s March 14 report recalled what Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in February: “the President welcomes the preliminary examination because he is sick and tired of being accused of the commission of crimes against humanity.” The report also referenced Senate Resolution No. 289, a “resolution expressing the sense of the Senate that termination of, or withdrawal from, treaties and international agreements concurred in by the Senate shall be valid and effective only upon concurrence by the Senate.” The said resolution was signed in February 2017. The report took note that it has yet to be adopted (“Duterte: PH to withdraw from the International Criminal Court ‘immediately’”).
Meanwhile, the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s banner story on the same day noted that the withdrawal does not have an effect on cases filed prior to it, based on Article 127 of the Rome Statute, according to Senator Franklin Drilon (“PH to withdraw from ICC – Duterte”). On March 15, the Inquirer also provided a backgrounder on the nature of the ICC and the treaty (“IN THE KNOW: The Rome Statute”).
TV5’s Aksyon aired an explainer presented by anchor Ed Lingao which, aside from information on the ICC and the Rome Statue, discussed the withdrawal of Burundi, Gambia and South Africa in 2016. Lingao drew parallels on the cases of Burundi and South Africa with the Philippines, noting that Burundi left the ICC as the international court began preliminary investigations on alleged crimes against humanity committed in the country – a situation mirroring Duterte’s move. Lingao also recalled how the South African High Court ruled as invalid their country’s withdrawal from the ICC, suggesting that the Philippine Supreme Court could also face a similar scenario (“EXPLAINER | Pagkalas ng Pilipinas sa ICC”).
These efforts by media to go beyond the president’s announcement in their initial reports are commendable, breaking away from the usual recording of a policy statement which does not help the public understand its meaning.