Philippines’ ICC collaboration might involve the possibility of issuing an arrest warrant, says Carpio

In an interview with reporters on Wednesday, former Supreme Court (SC) Associate Justice Antonio Carpio stated that the issuance of an arrest warrant for former President Rodrigo Duterte by the Philippine government could be seen as a form of cooperation with the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Carpio cited a 2021 case in which the SC ruled that despite the Philippines’ withdrawal from the ICC, the country is still obliged to cooperate due to the alleged crimes against humanity being committed while the country was still a member state.

These comments came in response to former presidential spokesman Harry Roque’s claim that Duterte had received information about a potential arrest warrant. Carpio advised the former president to cooperate with the ICC if he wants his voice to be heard.

However, the Philippine National Police assured that it would not serve an arrest warrant on the former president in line with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s order to government agencies not to assist the ICC.

In addition, ICC Assistant to Counsel Kristina Conti stated in an interview that there is a “possible” presence of ICC investigators in the Philippines, as they were already conducting an investigation into the alleged crimes against humanity during Duterte’s war on drugs.

Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra argued that the country’s cooperation with the ICC is a “policy issue” beyond the realm of the judiciary, and reiterated the stance that the ICC can issue an arrest warrant but it cannot be enforced in the country.

Former senator and justice secretary Leila de Lima also weighed in, suggesting that the Philippines could easily rejoin the Rome Statute as there was no “Senate concurrence” when the country withdrew as a member state in 2019.

The Philippines withdrew from the Rome Statute in 2019 after ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda started a preliminary investigation on human rights violations during Duterte’s war on drugs.

The case has garnered attention given the official figures indicating 6,000 deaths during the previous administration’s drug war, while human rights organizations contend that the actual number might be as high as 30,000.

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