MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte remains unfazed by the possibility that the International Criminal Court (ICC) will recognize the complaint against him because of the supposed “unwillingness” of Congress to investigate his alleged liabilities in the war on illegal drugs.
Duterte slammed Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano for raising the possibility that the lawmaker would reinforce the ICC case filed by Jude Sabio, the lawyer of self-confessed hitman Edgar Matobato, after Alejano's impeachment complaint against the chief executive was shot down by a House panel.
“He can go ahead. He’s free to do it. This is a democracy,” Duterte, who had just come from his China trip, said of Alejano.
In his complaint, Alejano said Duterte should be impeached for the killings in the war on illegal drugs and perpetrated by the Davao Death Squad, for his alleged ill-gotten wealth as contained in his family's allegedly hidden bank accounts, and his stance on the Philippine sovereignty over the West Philippine Sea and Benham Rise.
Sabio last month submitted a communication to The Hague-based ICC to accuse Duterte of committing crimes against humanity because of his war on illegal drugs.
Duterte’s allies said Sabio’s complaint would not prosper because there has to be proof that all government institutions have shown unwillingness to prosecute the president. The ICC, being a court of last resort, can only step in if this qualification is met.
The president’s critics, on the other hand, said the ICC should intervene now since justice for the killings linked to the campaign against illegal drugs would not be achieved under the present government.
Duterte acknowledged that there were deaths in his controversial campaign, but he insisted that the drug suspects killed died after fighting it out with the police.
“Some guys are being taken for a ride a thousand times over. Totoo iyang may namatay. Ano ba namang giyera na walang namatay?” he said.
Human rights groups and some western governments have slammed Duterte for the thousands of killings linked to the war on drugs, but the administration said the figures were distorted to put the president in a bad light.
Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, who led the Philippine delegation to the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review, explained that under the Duterte administration, there were 9,432 homicide cases from July 1, 2016 to March 31, 2017, and 2,692 deaths resulting from presumed legitimate police operations in the drug war.
The Commission on Human Rights, however, urged the government to look at the bigger picture by going beyond the numbers and focus on the circumstances surrounding the killings.