Armed vigilantes to protect Duterte ICC arrest?

Armed vigilantes to protect Duterte ICC arrest?

By Junex Doronio

June 30, 2021

LAPU-LAPU CITY, Cebu – Is the proposal to arm civilian anti-crime groups meant to protect President Rodrigo Roa Duterte from his possible arrest once the International Criminal Court (ICC) wraps up its preliminary investigation into the administration’s war on drugs?

This question cropped up even if Malacañang earlier downplayed claims that Duterte may be arrested over the communications filed before the international court. Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo also stressed that a warrant cannot be enforced as the ICC has “no jurisdiction” over the country.

“If the President remains in the country, it will probably not be enforced. But if he travels to another country that is part of the Rome Statute, they are obligated to enforce the warrant,” Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) chairman Chel Diokno said.

But he added that Duterte may still be taken into custody— if he decides to set foot in another ICC member state.

“Actually all states that are members of the Rome Statute, the treaty that created the ICC, are obligated to cooperate whenever a warrant is issued,” Diokno pointed out in a recent interview with CNN Philippines’ The Source.

The President faces a complaint before the Hague-based tribunal for crimes against humanity in connection with his flagship anti-drug campaign.

The ICCs prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, last year launched a preliminary examination on the situation in the Philippines.

In 2008, Duterte announced the country’s pullout from the ICC— following supposed attacks against him and his administration as well as the international court’s attempt to put him under its jurisdiction. The country’s withdrawal from the ICC— which investigates cases of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and crimes of aggression —became official in March.

Government data shows more than 6,000 people have been killed in anti-illegal drug operations since Duterte took office in July 2016. Human rights groups, however, have cited higher figures.

Apparently fearing a “Wild, Wild West” scenario some lawmakers cross partylines to oppose a proposal to arm civilian volunteers to help police deter crimes and Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra also junked such idea.

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