Sotto OK with ICC probe of PH drug war

WIllard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 20 2022 02:44 PM | Updated as of Jan 25 2022 01:06 PM

MANILA -- Vice presidential aspirant Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III sees no problem in the International Criminal Court (ICC) launching a probe into the drug war of the Duterte administration.

In an interview on TeleRadyo’s “On The Spot” on Thursday, Sotto said it is good for the ICC to investigate to see if their numbers related to the drug war are accurate.

“Mabuti nga mag-imbestiga sila eh, para makita nila kung tama ang numbers na binibigay sa kanila eh,” he said.

The ICC, he said, should not be stymied and find other ways to go around the refusal of the Duterte administration to let investigators enter the Philippines, suggesting that they can come and pretend as tourists if they are determined to conduct the probe.

“Kung ako naman sa kanila, ewan ko kung bakit kailangan magpaalam sila. Kaya naman nila mag-imbestiga nang hindi nagpapaalam,” Sotto said.

“Pwede naman silang magpunta na hindi iyon ang dahilan nila eh…Pwede ka naman pumunta rito na kunwari turista eh… Gusto nila mag-imbestiga."

"What I mean is, hindi ko sila tinuturuan. Ako, kung mag-iimbestiga ako, gagawa ako ng paraan para mag-imbestiga. Hindi puro ka pa-press release, pasikat sa media, pagkatapos magpapaalam kunwari. Alam mo naman hindi ka papayagan."

"Kung totoong gusto mo mag-imbestiga, mag-imbestiga ka. Kaya mong gawin iyon," the lawmaker said. 

The ICC Pre-Trial Chamber in August gave its green light for the ICC Prosecutor to conduct a formal probe on the drug war killings in the Philippines, but suspended its probe in November as it assessed the country's request for a deferral of the investigation. 

Malacañang has insisted it will not cooperate with any investigation on the war on drugs in the country.

Sotto has long called for a demand and supply reduction strategy, and for a holistic approach in tackling the drug problem, pointing out that the Duterte administration has been heavy on law enforcement but not in preventing drug abuse and rehabilitating drug users.

“Sa kasalukuyan, mahigpit, mabigat ang enforcement. Ang prosecution, much to be desired. Sa enforcement mabigat ang ginawa ng administration, pero walang prevention at rehabilitation na malakas,” said the former chair of the Dangerous Drugs Board.

The government said more than 6,200 people have died during anti-drugs operations since the start of the Duterte administration. Human rights groups estimate that the figure is much higher.

Sotto reiterated that his tandem with Senator Panfilo Lacson is “pro-Filipino” and cannot be classified as pro-administration or pro-opposition, noting that the Senate under his leadership has been independent.

He recalled leading the Senate’s probe into anomalies involving PhilHealth, Department of Agriculture, and Bureau of Corrections, and questions about the Comelec’s conduct of the elections.

“Lagi kaming 'Kung maganda para sa kababayan natin, we support the administration and the president', and if we have to criticize, we do criticize,” Sotto said.

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