Dela Rosa favors arresting ICC officials if they insist on coming to PH

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 2) — Sen. Bato dela Rosa on Thursday said he favors the arrest of officials from the International Criminal Court (ICC) if they insist on coming to the Philippines to conduct their investigation on the Duterte administration’s war on drugs.

“If they insist on coming here and conduct investigation, that is a clear intrusion into our sovereignty,” Dela Rosa told CNN Philippines’ The Source, noting that the ICC has no sovereign power over the country after its withdrawal from the Rome Statute, the treaty that governs the ICC, which took effect in March 2019.

This was the senator’s response when asked if he supports the statement made by Presidential Legal Counsel Juan Ponce Enrile. The latter said Monday that if it were up to him, he will have ICC personnel arrested if they come to the country following the decision of the body to resume its probe into the bloody war against illegal drugs.

Dela Rosa also agreed with former President Rodrigo Duterte that the ICC investigation is an insult to the Philippines.

The senator pointed out the ICC itself is violating its principle of complementarity under the Rome Statute.

According to the Legal Information Institute of the Cornell Law School, “The principle of complementarity is implemented by the ICC through Articles 17 and 53 of the Rome Statute, it provides that a case is inadmissible before the ICC if it is currently under investigation by a state with jurisdiction over it.”

This allows for ICC jurisdiction in cases “when the state is unable or unwilling to proceed with an investigation or where the state investigation is conducted in bad faith such as when it is used to shield the person from criminal responsibility.”

Dela Rosa maintained that the Philippines has functioning courts and that investigations are being done. He also criticized the ICC for saying it was “not satisfied” with the local investigations.

“Who the hell are they to impose their standards on us? We have our own laws, we have our own courts that are functioning, we have our own prosecution, and we have our own judicial system that is perfectly and very robustly functioning,” he said.

Anong tingin nila sa bansa natin? Hindi tayo marunong mag-deliver ng justice?” he added.

[Translation: What do they think about our country? We cannot deliver justice?]

The former PNP chief, who was earlier named in a report by the ICC prosecutor, maintained he will not cooperate with the investigation. If ever the case will progress, Dela Rosa said he already tapped fellow Senator Francis Tolentino to be his counsel.

He also again blamed the leftists, and Duterte critics like the Liberal party, for the resumption of the probe, saying they are the ones calling for it. 

In a tweet, Liberal Party secretary-general Teddy Baguilat denied this, noting that it is the family of the victims who are pushing for the case as they look "for justice which the state denied their relatives."

"Pls focus on your job to pass laws instead of making baseless accusations. Have you contributed policy to improve our justice system? Diversionary tactics," Baguilat told the senator.

Meanwhile, Dela Rosa said he has yet to discuss the matter with Duterte as they last talked about it in December.

If given the chance, he also said he will talk to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. regarding the ICC probe.

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency said the death toll in the Duterte administration's war on drugs stood at 6,248 as of April 30, 2022. Local and international human rights organizations, however, estimate a higher tally of between 12,000 and 30,000.