Duterte threatens to arrest ICC prosecutor
By Azer Parrocha
MANILA (Philippines News Agency) — President Rodrigo R. Duterte has threatened to arrest an International Criminal Court prosecutor if she “exercises any proceedings” in the country, noting that the Philippines was no longer a member of the ICC.
“But what is your authority now? If we are not members of the treaty, why are you f****** in this country? You cannot exercise any proceedings here without basis. That is illegal and I will arrest you,” Duterte said when he arrived in Davao City from his visit to China and Hong Kong to attend the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) Annual Conference.
On March 14, Duterte first announced the Philippines’ withdrawal of its ratification of the Rome Statute, a United Nations (UN) treaty creating the ICC.
In the statement, Duterte cited “baseless, unprecedented and outrageous attacks” against him and his administration as the reason for his withdrawal as a state party.
“Given the baseless, unprecedented and outrageous attacks on my person as well as against my administration, engineered by the officials of the United Nations, as well as the attempt by the International Criminal Court special prosecutor to place my person within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, in violation of due process and the presumption of innocence expressly guaranteed by the Philippine Constitution and recognized no less by the Rome Stature, I therefore declare and forthwith give notice, as President of the Republic of the Philippines, that the Philippines is withdrawing its ratification of the Rome Statute effective immediately,” the President said in the statement.
This came after ICC special prosecutor Fatou Bensouda started a preliminary examination on the alleged human rights violations amid the Duterte administration’s intensified war on drugs.
Duterte has repeatedly said that the Philippines was better off without the ICC, noting that the court’s position is “flawed”.
He defended his decision to take back the Philippines’ ratification of the Rome Statute, noting that the treaty is not a law since it was not published in the Official Gazette when the Philippines ratified it in August 2011, during the time of former President Benigno Aquino III.
“If it is not published, there is no law. So there is no reason to withdraw which is not existing,” Duterte said.
Since the Rome Statute was not published in the Official Gazette, Duterte insisted the ICC will never have jurisdiction over him, “not in a million years.”
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the ICC had “no jurisdiction” over the President as the treaty is “not effective nor enforceable in the Philippines”.
Even assuming that ICC can have jurisdiction over him, Duterte has argued that the acts he allegedly committed do not fall under the enumerated grounds, by which the ICC could assume jurisdiction.
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, meanwhile, said that Duterte was not afraid about being tried before the international court and claimed that the decision of the ICC to conduct a preliminary examination on Duterte was “already a violation of due process”.
“Preliminary examination alone, it is already a violation of due process…before the court assumes jurisdiction, they have to determine one, whether it has jurisdiction over the subject matter,” Panelo said.
“By announcing prematurely the preliminary examination being conducted by the special prosecutor, it is as if he’s going to be charged with all the crimes,” he added. (PNA)