Panelo said Colmenares was just expressing a wish when he said Duterte could be arrested after the ICC preliminary examination is completed. Leandicho, file
Palace: Even if ICC issues warrant for Duterte, who will enforce it?
Alexis Romero ( - December 8, 2019 - 4:21pm

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Sunday disputed claims that President Rodrigo Duterte could be arrested after the office of the International Criminal Court prosecutor finishes its preliminary examination into deaths alleged tied to his "war" on illegal drugs.

Two communications have been filed before the ICC seeking Duterte's indictment for allegedly ordering the deaths of thousands of drug suspects. ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda recently said the preliminary examination into Duterte's alleged crimes against humanity may be completed next year. 

READ: ICC prosecutor's preliminary examination into 'drug war' seen done in 2020

Human rights lawyer and former Bayan Muna party list representative Neri Colmenares said Saturday Duterte may be arrested after the ICC finishes its preliminary examination.

But Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo insisted that an arrest warrant cannot be enforced because the tribunal has no jurisdiction over the Philippines.

"Even if they (ICC) issue a warrant, who will enforce?" Panelo said in a radio interview.

"It's not that simple. First, a preliminary examination has to be conducted first and then they have to determine if they have jurisdiction. Second, there will be a preliminary investigation to determine whether there is probable cause. If there is, there would be a trial...assuming there is jurisdiction. But there is none, as far as we're concerned," he added. 

Officials previously said the Rome Statute, the treaty that formed the ICC, did not have jurisdiction over the Philippines because it was not published in the government's official publication.

READ: Publication not among usual requirements for treaties, agreements

Duterte withdrew the Philippines from the treaty last year in response to the ICC's decision to look into his crackdown on illegal drugs. The ICC, however, has claimed that the withdrawal would not affect the Philippines' obligation to cooperate with the probe.

Panelo said Colmenares was just expressing a wish when he said Duterte could be arrested after the ICC preliminary examination is completed.

"It's just a wish of (former) congressman Colmenares. That won't happen," the Palace spokesman said.

Panelo claimed Duterte is not bothered by the possible completion of the preliminary examination next year.

"I think it's Colmenares who's bothered," he said.

Panelo also said it would be up to the Commission on Human Rights to decide whether to provide documents to the ICC.

"We don't interfere with the actions of the Commission on Human Rights," he said.

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