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'Threat to our sovereignty': Marcos won't allow ICC in PH for Duterte drug war probe

Outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte says goodbye to successor President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr after the departure honors at the Malacanang Palace on June 30, 2022. King Rodriguez, Presidential Photo

MANILA — President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. on Saturday said the International Criminal Court (ICC) has "no jurisdiction" over the Philippines to investigate former President Rodrigo Duterte for his bloody drug war, saying it is a "threat to our sovereignty." 

In a chance interview with reporters, Marcos said "there are many questions about their jurisdiction" in the Philippines to even start a probe. 

"I do not see what their jurisdiction is. I feel that we have in our police, in our judiciary, a good system. We do not need assistance from any outside entity, the Philippines is a sovereign nation and we are not colonies anymore of this former imperialist," the Chief Executive said. 

"That is not something that we consider to be a legitimate judgment," he added. 

"So until those questions of jurisdiction and the effects of the sovereignty of the Republic are sufficiently answered, I cannot cooperate with them."

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His statement comes after former President and House Senior Deputy Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo filed a resolution, along with other lawmakers, seeking the "unequivocal defense" of Duterte. 

The ICC in January authorized the resumption of its investigation into the drug war and the Davao Death Squad killings in the Philippines. 

The court said its pre-trial chamber was "not satisfied that the Philippines is undertaking relevant investigations that would warrant a deferral of the court's investigations."

Duterte pulled the Philippines out of the ICC in 2019, after it began a preliminary probe into the drug crackdown followed by the launch of a formal inquiry later that year.

But the probe was suspended in November 2019 after Manila said it was re-examining several hundred cases of drug operations that led to deaths at the hands of police, hitmen and vigilantes.

The ICC said that while the Philippines' withdrawal from the Statute took effect on March 17, 2019, the court "retains jurisdiction with respect to alleged crimes that occurred on the territory of the Philippines while it was a State Party, from 1 November 2011 up to and including 16 March 2019. "

Officially, 6,181 people were killed in Duterte's "war on drugs", which began in 2016, but rights groups say that up to 30,000 may have died, some innocent victims, and that corruption was rife among security forces that acted with impunity.

Marcos has vowed to continue the drug war but with a focus on prevention and rehabilitation.