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The unanimous decision of the Supreme Court upholding the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC) over President Rodrigo Duterte is an added luster to judicial independence.

The high court rejected Duterte's repeated posturing that the withdrawal of the Philippines from the Rome Statute on March 16, 2018 at his sole behest deprives the ICC of its jurisdiction over him and his men for alleged crimes against humanity and other atrocities due to his brutal war on drugs.

Before President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his final State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 26, 2021, it may be appropriate to review the valedictory SONAs of the past presidents after the EDSA people power revolution, except for President Joseph Estrada’s because he did not finish his term.

Considering that only the President is immune from lawsuits, a legal verity which President Rodrigo Duterte fully knows, then his pretext of running for vice president to enjoy “immunity”, spills the beans on his real intention to become successor-president the moment the office of the elected president in 2022 is vacated by design or fortuitous event.

In the hierarchy of constitutional liberties, freedom of expression, which includes the freedom of the press, enjoys preeminence because the availment of other fundamental freedoms depends on the full guarantee of free speech and free press.

Administration officials try to help President Rodrigo Duterte evade the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC) by foisting the principle of complementarity. This means the ICC will not exercise jurisdiction over the perpetrators of covered offenses, like crimes against humanity and massive extrajudicial killings (EJKs), if the country’s domestic authorities, principally the courts, are functioning and the alleged offenders are prosecuted impartially and independently.