SolGen: If ICC issues arrest warrant vs. Duterte, it may not be enforced

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 22) — The International Criminal Court (ICC) may issue a warrant of arrest against former President Rodrigo Duterte once its probe on the latter's war on drugs starts, but the question on who will enforce it remains, Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra said Wednesday.

"Whether the ICC can enforce it or not is a totally different question because the ICC will have to depend on local authorities to enforce that warrant of arrest," Guevarra told CNN Philippines' The Source.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros earlier said the issuance of a warrant of arrest by the ICC for Russian President Vladimir Putin should serve as a "fair warning" to those defending former President Rodrigo Duterte's war against illegal drugs. 

The ICC on March 17 issued arrest warrants for Putin and his commissioner for children's rights Maria Lvova-Belova for their roles in the alleged scheme to forcibly deport thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia.

The Philippine government already filed an appeal on the decision to resume the ICC pre-trial chamber's probe on alleged abuses during the Duterte administration's drug war. 

READ: SolGen: ICC chamber ‘legal errors’ basis for PH appeal on drug war probe

RELATED: PH hires foreign lawyer to assist in ICC appeal vs. drug war probe

If the ICC's Appeals Chamber agrees that the investigation should be reopened, the issuance of a warrant of arrest is always possible, Guevarra said.

Cooperation from local authorities is needed to implement this, he noted.

"So if the government does not cooperate because the matter of jurisdiction has not been finally settled, who will enforce the warrant of arrest?" he asked.

Meanwhile, Guevarra said the pre-trial chamber may still conduct its probe if the Appeals Chamber allows it.

"For as long as they don't commit any offense here in our territory then they will not be arrested," Guevarra said. "But whether or not the Philippine government will cooperate, that's another matter."

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has said that his government cannot cooperate with the ICC's investigation since "the Philippines is a sovereign nation," and questions about the tribunal's jurisdiction should be first settled.