Mindanao Times

ICC can’t arrest Duterte: Palace


MANILA – The Internatio­nal Criminal Court (ICC) has no authority to arrest President Rodrigo Duterte on the basis of alleged commission of crimes against humanity for the deaths of thousands of drug personalit­ies in the country, Malacañang said on Sunday.

Presidenti­al Spokespers­on Salvador Panelo’s statement was in response to the claim of former Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares that Duterte may soon face possible arrest, once the ICC is done with its preliminar­y examinatio­n of the war on illegal drugs in the Philippine­s.

On Saturday, Colmenares claimed Duterte would struggle in his last two years in office, “if a warrant is issued for his arrest worldwide.”

In an interview with dzIQ, Panelo shrugged off Colmenares’ “fervent wish” for Duterte’s arrest, noting that the ICC will never have jurisdicti­on over the Philippine­s.

“Unang-una, wish lang ni (former) Congressma­n Colmenares yun. Eh siguro ‘yun ang kanyang fervent wish. Hindi mangyayari ‘yun (First and foremost, that’s just a wish of former Congressma­n Colmenares. That’s just his fervent wish. That will never happen),” Panelo, also Chief Presidenti­al Legal Counsel, said.

“Pangalawa, wala ng jurisdicti­on ang ICC so ineffectiv­e na mag-issue pa sila ng warrant. Now, paano nila ie-enforce (Second, the ICC has no jurisdicti­on so it is ineffectiv­e for them to issue a warrant. How can they

enforce that)?” he added.

The ICC, in its “preliminar­y examinatio­n activities” report for 2019, noted that it seeks the conclusion of its initial review of Duterte’s drug war by 2020 to determine the possible necessity to conduct a full-blown investigat­ion into the Philippine­s’ campaign against narcotics trade.

The Philippine­s was officially out of the ICC on March 17, 2019, or a year after the Duterte administra­tion officially issued a formal notificati­on about its intent of leaving the internatio­nal tribunal body.

The country’s departure came after the ICC launched in February 2018 a preliminar­y examinatio­n of Duterte’s crackdown on illegal drugs, based on lawyer Jude Sabio’s communicat­ion, which accused the President of committing crimes against humanity for the killings of thousands of drug offenders from July 1, 2016 to March 31, 2017.

Despite the Philippine­s’ withdrawal, the ICC pushed through with its preliminar­y examinatio­n, stressing that it has jurisdicti­on over the possible crimes committed during the period the Philippine­s was a member-state of the internatio­nal court.

On Saturday, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said it is willing to cooperate with the ICC, in the event that it is tapped for informatio­n on Duterte’s antinarcot­ics campaign.

Panelo merely brushed aside the CHR’s remarks.

“Nasa sa kanila na ‘yun. Hindi naman namin pinapakial­aman ang Commission on Human Rights (It’s up to them. We don’t interfere in the affairs of the Commission on Human Rights),” he said.

Duterte was still “not bothered,” despite the accusation thrown against him, his spokesman said.

“No, [the President is not bothered]. I think it’s Colmenares who’s bothered,” Panelo said.

“Eh di ba nga matagal na niyang sinasabi, wala ngang jurisdicti­on. Kahit ano pang gawin nila, walang mangyayari sa kanila (He has been saying that the ICC has no jurisdicti­on. Whatever it does, it will not prosper),” he added.

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