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Oct 16, 2008

G.R. No. 158088, July 6, 2005

  • Signing of Treaty vs. Ratification
  • Significance of Ratification
  • Who has power to ratify


The Rome Statute established the ICC which “shall have the power to exercise its jurisdiction over persons for the most serious crimes of international concern xxx and shall be complementary to the national criminal jurisdictions.” The Philippines, through Charge d’ Affairs Enrique A. Manalo of the Philippine Mission to the UN, signed the Rome Statute on Dec. 28, 2000. Its provisions, however, require that it be subject to ratification, acceptance or approval of the signatory states. Petitioners now file this petition to compel the Office of the President to transmit the signed copy of the Rome Statute to the Senate for its concurrence.

  • Whether or not the Executive Secretary and the DFA have a ministerial duty to transmit to the Senate the copy of the Rome Statute


We rule in the negative.

In our system of government, the President, being the head of state, is regarded as the sole organ and authority in external relations and is the country’s sole representative with foreign nations. As the chief architect of foreign policy, the President acts as the country’s mouthpiece with respect to international affairs. Hence, the President is vested with the authority to deal with foreign states and governments, extend or withhold recognition, maintain diplomatic relations, enter into treaties, and otherwise transact the business of foreign relations. In the realm of treaty-making, the President has the sole authority to negotiate with other states.

Nonetheless, while the President has the sole authority to negotiate and enter into treaties, the Constitution provides a limitation to his power by requiring the concurrence of 2/3 of all the members of the Senate for the validity of the treaty entered into by him. Section 21, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution provides that “no treaty or international agreement shall be valid and effective unless concurred in by at least two-thirds of all the Members of the Senate.”

The participation of the legislative branch in the treaty-making process was deemed essential to provide a check on the executive in the field of foreign relations. By requiring the concurrence of the legislature in the treaties entered into by the President, the Constitution ensures a healthy system of checks and balance necessary in the nation’s pursuit of political maturity and growth.

Signing vs. Ratification of Treaty

It should be underscored that the signing of the treaty and the ratification are two separate and distinct steps in the treaty-making process. As earlier discussed, the signature is primarily intended as a means of authenticating the instrument and as a symbol of the good faith of the parties. It is usually performed by the state’s authorized representative in the diplomatic mission. Ratification, on the other hand, is the formal act by which a state confirms and accepts the provisions of a treaty concluded by its representative. It is generally held to be an executive act, undertaken by the head of the state or of the government.

Purpose of Ratification

Petitioners’ submission that the Philippines is bound under treaty law and international law to ratify the treaty which it has signed is without basis. The signature does not signify the final consent of the state to the treaty. It is the ratification that binds the state to the provisions thereof. In fact, the Rome Statute itself requires that the signature of the representatives of the states be subject to ratification, acceptance or approval of the signatory states. Ratification is the act by which the provisions of a treaty are formally confirmed and approved by a State. By ratifying a treaty signed in its behalf, a state expresses its willingness to be bound by the provisions of such treaty. After the treaty is signed by the state’s representative, the President, being accountable to the people, is burdened with the responsibility and the duty to carefully study the contents of the treaty and ensure that they are not inimical to the interest of the state and its people. Thus, the President has the discretion even after the signing of the treaty by the Philippine representative whether or not to ratify the same. The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties does not contemplate to defeat or even restrain this power of the head of states. If that were so, the requirement of ratification of treaties would be pointless and futile. It has been held that a state has no legal or even moral duty to ratify a treaty which has been signed by its plenipotentiaries. There is no legal obligation to ratify a treaty, but it goes without saying that the refusal must be based on substantial grounds and not on superficial or whimsical reasons. Otherwise, the other state would be justified in taking offense.

President has the Power to Ratify Treaties

It should be emphasized that under our Constitution, the power to ratify is vested in the President, subject to the concurrence of the Senate. The role of the Senate, however, is limited only to giving or withholding its consent, or concurrence, to the ratification. Hence, it is within the authority of the President to refuse to submit a treaty to the Senate or, having secured its consent for its ratification, refuse to ratify it. Although the refusal of a state to ratify a treaty which has been signed in its behalf is a serious step that should not be taken lightly, such decision is within the competence of the President alone, which cannot be encroached by this Court via a writ of mandamus. This Court has no jurisdiction over actions seeking to enjoin the President in the performance of his official duties. The Court, therefore, cannot issue the writ of mandamus prayed for by the petitioners as it is beyond its jurisdiction to compel the executive branch of the government to transmit the signed text of Rome Statute to the Senate.


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