Press Release
March 9, 2011


Lawmakers from different Asia-Pacific countries at an international conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia hailed President Aquino for ratifying the Rome Statute, thus making the Philippines a state party.

The Rome Statute establishes the International Criminal Court (ICC), and seeks to punish crimes against humanity and to abolish the culture of impunity in the commission of such crimes.

This developed as Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, an international law expert, made the announcement today, 9 March 2011, at the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Consultation on the Universality of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, where she delivered a paper.

The conference was hosted by the Parliament of Malaysia, and attended by lawmakers from Malaysia, the Republic of Korea, Indonesia, Nepal, New Zealand, and other countries in the Asia-Pacific.

Santiago predicted that the Senate will readily give its concurrence to the ratification.

Under the Constitution, no treaty shall be valid and effective unless concurred in by at least two-thirds of all members of the Senate.

Santiago was designated by Sen. Loren Legarda, chair of the Committee on Foreign Relations, to head the Senate Subcommittee on the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. As subcommittee chair, Santiago is in-charge of holding public hearings on the Rome Statute, and sponsoring and defending the treaty before the Senate plenary.

As chair of the Senate foreign relations committee from 2004 to 2010, Santiago took up the fight for ICC membership, which various Philippine presidents opposed because of American pressure to boycott the treaty. More than 40 countries have sided with the United States not to be a party to the Rome Statute or to associate with it.

Santiago said that the U.S. stance is dictated by its law, the American Service Members' Protection Act or ASPA. The ASPA prohibits the U.S. government from cooperating with the ICC and protects from ICC jurisdiction U.S. officials and military personnel.

The ASPA also contains a provision that "No United States military assistance may be provided to the government of a country that is a party to the International Criminal Court." However, a country that is a party to the ICC may still receive U.S. military aid if this requirement is waived by the U.S. President.

However, since taking office, President Obama has announced a policy of "positive engagement" with the ICC, thus indicating that the US is adopting a new attitude of cooperation with the ICC.

Santiago said there are now 110 State Parties to the Rome Statute; only 13 are listed from Asia and the Pacific, which include Cambodia, Timor Leste, Japan, and Republic of Korea. 23 states in Asia and the Pacific which are non-signatories include Brunei Darussalam, China, India, Indonesia, DPR Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, and Vietnam.

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