Duterte unfazed by ICC review of drug war

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 09 2018 08:41 PM | Updated as of Feb 10 2018 02:27 AM

Duterte says PH won't withdraw from ICC

MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - President Rodrigo Duterte is unfazed by the move of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to launch a preliminary examination into crimes allegedly committed under his administration’s war on drugs.

Duterte said he is ready to face trial. 

“If you want to find me guilty, go ahead! So be it,” he said in a press conference in his home city of Davao.

“If you hale me into a rigmarole of trial and trial, no need. Go ahead and proceed in your investigation.”

Duterte added he prefers to be executed than imprisoned if he will be found guilty of violating international law with his war on drugs.

“Find me guilty, of course, you can do that. I do not want imprisonment. I said, I beg of you to find a country where they execute,” he said.

"I’m no Rizal. I am not bright as Rizal. But I would like just to imitate the way Rizal died. And I would be happy to --- before the last, before the pull of the trigger, “F*** you guys," he added during a speech at the Manila Times' 7th Business Forum in Davao City.

The government has many times denied involvement in summary killings, saying the nearly 4,000 drug suspects killed in police operations had put up violent resistance, prompting officers to defend themselves.

Human rights groups, however, say the police figures are understated and does not include killings by alleged state-sponsored “vigilantes.”

Duterte also defended himself against accusations of having a direct hand in the killings.

“I never ordered [the killing of] a specific Mr. Santos or Mr. Cruz. I just told them, ‘Destroy the apparatus of the drug syndicates,’” he said.

“When I became President, I said, ‘Please don’t destroy my country… I want to build a country that is progressive and safe.”

Duterte’s allies have downplayed ICC’s launch of a preliminary examination into a communication filed by Filipino lawyer Jude Sabio in April last year accusing Duterte and other government senior officials of committing crimes against humanity due to the government’s war on drugs.

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has asked for the Philippine government’s full cooperation in its preliminary examination, saying it would be done with “full independence and impartiality.”

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Thursday said the ICC is just wasting its time and resources by undertaking the preliminary examination, insisting that the Philippines has not exhibited inability or unwillingness to probe allegations against the President.

Roque said the Philippines ratified the statute with the condition that the ICC adheres to the principle of complementarity. Under this principle, the ICC must only function as a “court of last resort,” which means it would only act if a state is unable or unwilling to carry out an investigation and prosecution of a crime.

Duterte, who can only be prosecuted and ousted through impeachment proceedings, was slapped with an impeachment complaint in March 2017 by Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano. This, however, was dismissed by the House of Representatives, which is dominated by the President’s allies.

Amid concerns raised by the ICC, Duterte himself had threatened in November 2016 to withdraw the Philippines from the international court.

But Duterte’s fierce critic, Senator Leila de Lima, said the President could not just unilaterally decide to pull the Philippines out of the ICC.

Duterte, however, said he would not make good on his earlier vow since it would appear he was trying to “avoid liability.”