NEW YORK — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday, April 13 threatened to arrest International Criminal Court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda if she sets foot in the Philippines, to investigate alleged extra-judicial killings under the Philippine war on drugs.
Ruben Carranza of the International Center for Transitional Justice says the Philippine withdrawal from the ICC will take effect not until March 2019.
While it’s not clear whether Bensouda plans to set foot in the Philippines anytime soon, she had already ordered a preliminary examination on the Philippines last February.
“A preliminary examination is not an investigation but a process of examining the information available in order to reach a fully informed determination on whether there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation,” she says.
Carranza says even Philippine presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo’s reason for withdrawal is contradictory.
“He says the ICC treaty was not published in the official gazette, this is an argument that a person who goes to law school in the first semester but drops out will use… it’s silly. But even if we took that seriously, the Philippines has taken steps that recognizes the effectiveness of the ICC treaty, nominated a judge.”
The Philippines in fact was signed on and has ratified its membership to the ICC since 2011.
Carranza said that Duterte’s withdrawal from ICC can still be challenged in a Philippine court, as activists have challenged similar withdrawals in other countries.
He adds that those who have filed communications to the ICC such as Senator Trillanes and Jun Sabio may not be in a position to provide all the evidence the ICC needs to examine the EJK allegations.
He believes that testimony from the families and survivors of the alleged EJK’s could be the kind of evidence the ICC needs to prosecute this so-called war on the poor in the Philippines.