Press Release
April 14, 2018

Dispatch from Crame No. 283:
Sen. Leila M. de Lima's Statement on Duterte's threat to arrest ICC investigators


The Prosecutor of the ICC is still yet to determine its jurisdiction over Duterte as it conducts its preliminary examination, and yet Duterte has already withdrawn the Philippines from the ICC - albeit illegally without Senate concurrence - and threatened the arrest of Prosecutor Bensouda and ICC investigators if they set foot on Philippine soil.

Duterte cannot do this legally. But, of course, he can do it illegally, in the same way he was already able to illegally order the murder of more than 20,000 human beings since the start of his Drug War.

Duterte already has absolute power as dictator if that happens, and by that time there would also no longer be any working judiciary or Constitution. By and large he has already managed to get away with practically everything, including promising to sell Philippine territory to China without nary a whimper from the AFP.

Indeed, the way things are going, Duterte can order the arrest of Bensouda without any resistance whatsoever from any government institution still capable of defending the Republic from his totalitarian methods.

If he does order the arrest of the ICC investigators, he has the entire Assembly of State Parties to the Rome Statute to contend with. According to the Rome Statute, in the event of a refusal of a State Party to cooperate with the ICC, the latter shall refer the same to the Assembly of State Parties. But arresting the ICC Prosecutor will not only constitute a refusal to cooperate. It will be treated as a hostile action against the ICC itself that would require a more drastic response from the Assembly of State Parties.

Only a rogue State with nothing to lose in the international community will attempt such an action. That is the path where Duterte is leading the Philippines to. He wants this country to be in the same place as North Korea in the international community of nations.

But Duterte should still not be complacent with his dictatorial potential to order the arrest of international officials cloaked with diplomatic immunity. Investigation within the territory of a state is only one among the various modes of investigation that the ICC Prosecutor is allowed in the conduct of an investigation. It can still proceed with an investigation without setting foot on the Philippines, especially after the threat of arrest already pronounced by Duterte.

Preventing ICC investigators from coming to the Philippines will definitely not foreclose an ICC investigation. Once the Prosecutor and the Pre-Trial Chamber determines the necessity of an investigation, it is no longer within Duterte's power, whether lawful or dictatorial, to stop it. Any ICC action after the preliminary examination is already beyond his reach.

Duterte's paranoid behavior, a characteristic feature of his sociopathy, is the projection of his fear of the ICC. Ironically, the ICC is still at its preliminary examination, the stage before the conduct of a formal investigation, and definitely still steps away from the issuance of an arrest order.

The fact that this early, Duterte already feels the walls closing on him is a reflection of his guilt, like any criminal who is running out of options.

Duterte's threatened use of dictatorial powers, like ordering the arrest of ICC investigators, is his way of escaping international law and prosecution for his crimes against humanity. It is his flight from justice.

All his previous dares to the ICC Prosecutor to investigate and prosecute him, and upon conviction, turn him over to a firing squad, are now revealed as nothing but the false bravado of a desperate man who will soon be incapable of leaving his country for fear of his own arrest anywhere around the world, except China, of course.

This is the behavior of a guilty criminal, not of an innocent person.

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