Oslo, 17th March 2019
Dear Sir, His Excellency Rodrigo Roa Duterte, the President of the Republic of Philippines.
I am writing today to you and yours for a very simple reason. Not that I have the answers, but I am seeking those. Because I am worried about you and your administration. Since, the act of withdrawal from the Rome Statute and leave the International Criminal Court (ICC) came to affect today.
A quick brief about the ICC and the Rome Statute: “The primary mission of the International Criminal Court is to help put an end to impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole, and thus to contribute to the prevention of such crimes” (…) “On 17 July 1998, a conference of 160 States established the first treaty-based permanent international criminal court. The treaty adopted during that conference is known as the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Among other things, it sets out the crimes falling within the jurisdiction of the ICC, the rules of procedure and the mechanisms for States to cooperate with the ICC” (…) “ The mandate of the Court is to try individuals (rather than States), and to hold such persons accountable for the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole, namely the crime of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and the crime of aggression, when the conditions for the exercise of the Court’s jurisdiction over the latter are fulfilled” (ICC – Understanding the International Criminal Court).
The reason for writing this is very clear as an outsider, a man who follows the Republic and sometimes worried about the state of affairs. I’m writing to you President Duterte, because this is a serious gamble. Your risking more than just some mere donations or bilateral loans, you are risking more than that.
Mister President, your actually taking yourself out of institution, whose prosecuting for international crimes and crimes against humanity. Which is a very specific court, not just any tribunal. Why I am asking, because your administration accepted the verdict of another international court, which ordered a verdict in your favour. That was the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague on the 12th July 2016 [The South China Sea Arbitration (The Republic of the Philippines v. The People’s Republic of China)]. Therefore, the administration your running has accepted this and didn’t question the sovereign of this nor the laws it used for the ruling of this court.
If you as President are saying the ICC shouldn’t have any grounds of investigation you, than the same Republic and the same administration accept the verdict of another international court either. That is just an easy assessment, Mr. President.
As we are seeing the Republic leaves the ICC, could there be another reason for leaving it? Are you afraid of cases built up against you? Would you be afraid if they really investigated or looked into the anti-drug war? Are you afraid of what you did as Mayor of Davao?
I just got to ask. Since there has to be something, a reason why you are afraid of the ICC. If you had nothing to hide, if you had nothing to look into or questionable activity. You wouldn’t have revoked the Rome Statute and run away from the International Law?
I am really questioning it, since the same state had no issues accepting one International Court, but leaving another one. Are you leaving the laws and statutes of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague too? That would have been a bit fair, especially if your a supreme sovereign and not wanting any interference. This is a weird argument using against one, but accepting the other one.
I just had to ask. I don’t anticipate any answers, but the Filipino should get to know. Just not some PR Stunt and sample of the Withdrawal of the Rome Statute. There should be released an legal argument released to the public to read and with justified explanation. If not, we can wonder, if the you as a President is afraid of the ICC and what they could find.
I hope you could answer to that and also show grace. Not that I expect any, but as an outsider. This is just weird. No one is running away from something unless, they got something to hide. That is just ordinary fashion in these manners.
Writer of Minbane
“And that question is: ”How old is 15, really?” No, that’s a good question. I’m not saying that a person is as smart as they’re gonna be at 15. That’s not what I’m saying, man. But I am saying, 15 to me… is old enough to decide… whether or not you want to be pissed on. That’s me. If you can’t make a decision like that by the time you’re 15… then just give up, motherfucker, because life is way harder than that” – Dave Chappelle from ‘For What it’s Worth’ (2004)
I know that Dave Chappelle isn’t a politician, but he is a comedian. But I had to start with him, as this here piece will be about age. Because suddenly now Senate President Sotto in the Philippines, wants to make the legal age for prosecution and able to answer for their crimes down to thirteen (13). As of today, it is already fifteen (15). Therefore, the legal age are already low and early to be able to serve time for possible crimes.
I want to ask the politician, if he could change the legal age for other things, as they should not only have possibility to fine, detain and prosecute the youth, but also other things. Because, why is it just the negative aspect and the positive aspect of life that is given to the thirteen year old. Since, if your opening the gates to make them liable, shouldn’t they be able to do more other things too, without concern of the state?
“MANILA — Alarmed by the rise in the number of crimes now being committed by minors, Senate President Vicente Sotto III is pushing for the lowering of the age of criminal responsibility to 13 years old. In filing Senate Bill 2026, Sotto noted that criminal syndicates are exploiting the provisions of Republic Act 9344 of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 by using minors in the commission of crimes” (…) “In his explanatory note for Senate Bill 2026, Sotto said, “Due to the continuing challenge in the implementation of RA 9344, as amended, the aforesaid law must be further amended to lower the minimum age of criminal liability in order to adapt to the changing times.” “This bill will finally give clarity to the true intention of the law. The amendment to the law will institutionalize the criminal liability of teenagers who committed serious criminal offense,” Sotto said. He added that not only was the law abused by criminals but the innocence of these youngsters were deliberately taken from them” (Philippines News Agency – ‘ Sotto wants to lower age of criminal liability to 13’ 25.09.2018 link: http://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1049043).
With this Senate President Sotto, shouldn’t they be allowed to run for any public office in an election? Why cannot even a thirteen year old vote in the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections? In the recent election the youngest ones to vote in the SK in 2018 was 15 years old. Therefore, they cannot elect anyone or be eligible to get public office. But behind bars is fine and dandy. They have to wait to be 18 to be a candidate for Municipal Councilor, 21 years to be a candidate either for ARMM Regional Assemblyman or Mayor/Vice Mayor of City. To get into House of Representatives, you have to be 25 years old or in the Senate being 35 years old. If you considering to run for the two highest offices you have to be 40 years old, this being Vice-President and President. Therefore, the youths of age thirteen can be criminal liable, but cannot ever consider to run for office, not even in their local SK Election.
That is why Sotto, should consider his approach, as he can criminalize these youths, but they have no initial power. While it coming to work, the DOLE Guidelines of 1st January 2018 of work for minors states: “Under Republic Act No. 9231, children below the age of 15 are not allowed to be employed in any public or private establishment except when they work directly under the sole responsibility of their parents or guardian or when their participation in public entertainment or public information is essential. In any of the exceptions, the employer, parent or guardian should first secure working child permit from DOLE before engaging the services of the child” (Philippines Information Agency – ‘DOLE issues new guidelines on employment of minors in public entertainment’ 09.11.2017 link: https://pia.gov.ph/news/articles/1001624).
The DOLE has such strict rules about a minor, which is a thirteen years old individual, as they cannot work without guardians approval or the DOLE too as well. Therefore, when they need this to work together with parents or their approval for work, why can the same individual be criminal liable? Shouldn’t it be automatic to be working too?
So, we have quickly figured out they cannot vote, not be eligible to elected or work unless DOLE gives them permit. Should they still be able to become outlaws and get a criminal record? Really?
Just to put it further to prove the dire need to question it, is that a person between 18 to 21 needs consent of marriage from either father, mother or legal guardian to be allowed to married in the Philippines. So a person, cannot without consent of their parents get married, but they can get legal ramifications for their actions? Have Sotto even thought of all of this?
That is why I am writing this, because it is natural as a youth, a teen starting life, not fully matured or even considering of the implications of your acts. Shouldn’t be able to do all adulting first, before you get cost of being grown. However, the Senate President thinks otherwise.
Therefore, Mr. Sotto, should you allow them to work, married or even be eligible to get elected into office? Since you propose them to be criminal liable. If they can get punished by the state, shouldn’t they get all the opportunities of the state as well. Peace.