‘Duterte scared of International Criminal Court’s arrest order’

Paolo Romero - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Despite his tough talk, President Duterte is scared of the impending arrest order of The Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC), which is conducting a probe into the thousands of drug-related extrajudicial killings in the country, opposition senators said yesterday.

Senators Antonio Trillanes IV and Risa Hontiveros, both members of the minority bloc, hit Duterte for threatening ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and her investigators with arrest if they come to the country to probe his alleged involvement in the drug-related extrajudicial killings.

Trillanes was among those who formally asked the ICC last year to investigate the killings, which he claimed yesterday to have had 20,000 victims.

“It’s clear that Mr. Duterte is really scared of his case before the ICC, so he’s a coward. The thing is, he’s trying to show he’s tough and he’s also killing Filipinos,” Trillanes told radio station dzBB.

Duterte’s critic said the prospect of being ordered arrested has been on the President’s mind.

“The ICC doesn’t care about popularity, because being popular doesn’t mean you’re right,” he said.

Trillanes said Duterte’s public pronouncements on killing criminals, threats to arrest ICC probers as well as his refusal to cooperate with international investigations into the killings are enough grounds to issue an arrest warrant against him.

The senator said the ICC prosecutor’s office has never started a probe and left it hanging, adding despite Duterte’s announcement of the Philippines’ withdrawal from the ICC, it still has jurisdiction over the country.

Trillanes said he continues to formally send information to the ICC on the situation in the country since the filing of the communication asking for an investigation last year.

On the other hand, Hontiveros said in a statement that Duterte should “stop acting like a Marcos copycat” in threatening Bensouda with arrest.

She said Bensouda is not accused of any crime nor is involved in summary executions in the country.

“As far as I know, it is President Rodrigo Duterte and his cohorts who are charged before the ICC with crimes against humanity. It would be good for President Duterte to stop making outrageous statements in an attempt to deflect the serious charges lodged against him and discredit the ICC,” she said.

Such pronouncement, according to Hontiveros, is only making Duterte look more and more guilty in the eyes of the public.

“If the President thinks he is innocent of the accusations, then there is nothing to fear,” she said.

She also noted that Duterte cannot order anyone arrested as the Constitution reserves that power for judges.


Meanwhile, Sen. Richard Gordon defended Duterte in his tirades against the ICC as well as his decision to withdraw from the body, saying it was his “prerogative” to do so.

“I myself wouldn’t sign (the treaty joining the ICC). Imagine, other countries would come in to investigate us?” Gordon said.

“(The President) has the right to protect our country (from interference),” he said, adding that the courts in the country are still functioning and the drug-related extrajudicial killings had been investigated in the Senate.

Gordon’s report on the probe concluded that there was no state-sponsored killings in the country.



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