ICC can summon Duterte, Dela Rosa over deadly drug war — Diokno

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 17) — If the International Criminal Court (ICC) has sufficient evidence, it can summon the "masterminds" of the Philippine government's deadly drug war, including President Rodrigo Duterte and former police chief and now Sen. Ronald dela Rosa, law professor Chel Diokno said on Friday.

In his interview with CNN Philippines' The Source, Diokno explained the investigation process into the alleged crimes against humanity committed under the Duterte administration. He was also asked who can be summoned during the pre-trial and if the ICC can include Duterte.

"The policy of the prosecutors, as far as I know, is only to investigate and, if ever, charge those who are primarily responsible for the crime. In this case, the charge revolves around crimes against humanity. Kumbaga yung nasa likod, ‘yung tinatawag nating mastermind (Those who are behind it, the so-called masterminds) are those chiefly responsible," said Diokno, chair of Free Legal Assistance Group.

"In our case, it can include the President and others who were directly involved in the operations of the war on drugs," he added.

Diokno also noted that the ICC pre-trial chamber mentioned in its decision that the drug war was being operationalized through Command Memorandum Circular 16-2016 signed by Dela Rosa, who was the chief of the Philippine National Police in 2016.

The human rights lawyer explained that the Office of the Prosecutor will only issue summons to appear or an arrest warrant once it finds probable cause for crimes against humanity by those who are liable. By then, a formal trial can be conducted.

The ICC recently gave a go signal to investigate the killings "allegedly committed” in the Philippines between Nov. 1, 2011 and March 16, 2019. The prosecutor estimated that 12,000 to 30,000 civilians were killed in the drug war between 2016 and 2019, but the Philippine government recorded 6,000 deaths.

RELATED: ICC pre-trial chamber authorizes PH drug war probe

Duterte and his allies said the administration will not allow ICC investigators to enter the country. They also reiterated that the country already withdrew from the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the ICC, on March 17, 2019.

Diokno refuted this, saying that all the offenses committed prior to the country's withdrawal is still part of ICC's jurisdiction.

"There are many ways the prosecutor’s office of ICC can gather evidence. If they really will be refused entry into the country, they can still take evidence in other ways," he said.

"We still have an international legal obligation to cooperate with the court and with the prosecutor given that there is already a formal approval of the investigation," he added.