ICC can issue arrest warrant, but enforcement may be difficult — SolGen

Ian Laqui - Philstar.com
ICC can issue arrest warrant, but enforcement may be difficult � SolGen
This photo shows Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra.

MANILA, Philippines — Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra said on Thursday that the International Criminal Court (ICC) has the authority to issue a warrant of arrest against government officials but the actual enforcement is a different matter.

Guevarra said this in a Viber message with Philstar.com when asked if Vice President Sara Duterte and other Philippine government officials could be arrested following the claim of former Davao Senior Police Officer Arturo Lascañas against Duterte. 

“It is within the powers of the ICC to issue a warrant of arrest. But without any cooperation from the Philippine government it will be very difficult to enforce that warrant in Philippine territory,” Guevarra said.

“Besides, the person sought to be arrested may challenge the warrant in a Philippine court,” he added.

However, Guevarra did not comment on the specific accusation made by Lascañas.

“The Office of the Solicitor General represents the Republic. It does not represent any individual under investigation. So we cannot comment on the allegations against the vice president or any particular person for that matter,” he said.

Lascañas, purportedly associated with the original Davao Death Squad, accused the Vice President of planning "Oplan Tokhang" in Davao City while she served as mayor in 2012. 

“Sinabi sa akin ni [Senador] Bato Dela Rosa na nagcraft sila ng panibagong EJK [extrajudicial killing] campaign against illegal drugs, which is toktok hangyo - meaning Tokhang,” Lascañas said on Wednesday.

([Sen.] Bato Dela Rosa told me that they crafted a new anti-illegal drugs EJK [extrajudicial killing] campaign, which is called "toktok hangyo" – meaning Tokhang.)

Lascañas also said that he has submitted a 186-page affidavit to the ICC, providing details about the alleged killings attributed to former President Rodrigo Duterte and implicating his daughter Sara in extrajudicial killings in Davao City.

The vice president denied the allegations, dismissing them as a "new script". She asserted that she was never implicated in directing drug-related killings during her tenure in local positions in Davao City. 

According to a report by Vera Files, ICC probe documents containing information about the drug war mentioned the vice president, former President Duterte, Sen. Bong Go and former Philippine National Police Chief Dela Rosa.

The vice president also challenged Lascañas to file murder charges against her in a local court. 

“Wala na itong debate. Sa testigo at mga tao na nakapalibot sa kanya mag-file kayo ng kasong murder laban sa akin dito sa Pilipinas,” Duterte said in a statement on Thursday.

(There is no more debate here. To the people surrounding him, file a case of murder against me here in the Philippines.)

Earlier, the human rights organization Karapatan called on the human rights committees of both the House and the Senate, along with the Commission on Human Rights, to conduct an inquiry into Lascañas' claims. 

They emphasized that a comprehensive investigation would “exact justice and accountability from the perpetrators" for the lethal drug war during the tenure of former President Duterte.

Official figures indicate that there were approximately 6,000 deaths during the previous administration's drug war. However, human rights organizations contend that the actual number might be as high as 30,000. — with reports from Cristina Chi 

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