MANILA—President Rodrigo Duterte lashed out against the International Criminal Court, reiterating that he will never cooperate in its pending investigation into his administration's bloody war on drugs.
Then ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda last week asked the court to authorize opening a full investigation into drug war killings in the Philippines, saying crimes against humanity could have been committed.
"Itong ICC, bullsh*t itong . . . I would not . . . Why would I defend or face an accusation before white people? You must be crazy," Duterte said during his weekly televised public briefing on the COVID-19 situation in the Philippines.
" 'Yung mga colonizers ito noon, they have not atoned for their sins against the countries they invaded, including the Philippines. Tapos ito ngayon sila, they're trying to set up a court outside our country and making us liable to face them.
"Our laws are different. Our criminal procedures are different. How are you supposed to get justice there?"
According to Duterte, he decided to withdraw from the Rome Statute effective March 2019 because then-president Joseph Estrada was not aware of the agreement.
"Kaya ako nag-withdraw. And besides, I said, ang depensa ko, is 'yung Rome Statute, na-ratify sa Congress, at itong mga unggoy na 'to, dahil nga in their desire to, itong extrajudicial killing, dumiretso doon sa Rome and appended the treaty that was approved by Congress. But the law says that after Congress, you have to return the treaty to the President because the President now will order the Bureau of Printing to publish the statute or law, lalo na penal laws, you have to publish it in Official Gazette and that would put on notice, constructive notice, to all the people that there is a law. That is why na kung na-publish na 'yan you can say ignorance of law excuses no one. Ganoon 'yan," he explained.
(That's why I withdrew. And besides, I said, my defense is that the Rome Statute was ratified in Congress. And these monkeys, because of their desire to penalize extrajudicial killings, they went straight to Rome and appended the treaty that was approved by Congress. But the law says that after Congress, you have to return the treaty to the President because the President now will order the Bureau of Printing to publish the statute or law, especially penal laws, you have to publish it in Official Gazette and that would put on notice, constructive notice, to all the people that there is a law. That is why when it has been published, you can say ignorance of law excuses no one. It's like that.)
"Hindi nga dumaan ng ano, ni hindi na ibinalik kay Estrada, idineretso na agad. In their hurry, they forgot. So how are you supposed to know about this god**mn laws or itong mga batas nila sa ICC. Mga ul*l," Duterte added.
(They did not return it to Estrada, they went straight to Rome. In their hurry, they forgot. So how are you supposed to know about this god**mn laws or these laws in the ICC. They are crazy.)
ABS-CBN News could not independently verify Duterte's allegations at the time this story was posted.
Duterte said he is willing to face any accusation but it has to be in a Philippine court and before a Filipino judge.
"Tapos ako, magharap ng mga puti? Leche kayo. 'Wag niyo akong . . . I will readily face a court, being accused in a Philippine court, before a Filipino judge," he said.
The ICC, which has jurisdiction over 124 of its members, including the Philippines, was created through the 1988 UN statute.
The Philippines signed the Rome Statute on December 28, 2000, and ratified and endorsed it in August 2011, during the time of Duterte’s predecessor, Benigno Aquino III.
The Philippines officially withdrew from the ICC on March 17, 2019, exactly a year after the United Nations Secretary General received notification.
Duterte announced in March 2018 that the Philippines was withdrawing from the court, a month after Fatou Bensouda said that the ICC was opening a preliminary examination on the drug war in the Philippines, following receipt of reports of alleged extrajudicial killings during police anti-drug operations.
Citing alleged bias of UN officials, Duterte said the ICC was being used as a political tool against him.
Malacañang maintained the treaty did not take effect in the country because it was not published in a newspaper of general circulation.
Malacañang earlier said Duterte will never cooperate with any possible ICC probe into killings under his anti-narcotics drive, adding that it "is legally erroneous, politically motivated".
According to government data, from the time Duterte took office in 2016 until the end of April this year, security forces killed 6,117 drug dealers in sting operations.
Rights groups say authorities have summarily executed drug suspects, but police say drug dealers had fought back violently.
Many people killed in Duterte's crackdown had been on a drug watch list compiled by authorities or had previously surrendered to police, while a significant number of minors were victims, Bensouda's office said in a report six months ago.
Human rights groups accuse Duterte of inciting deadly violence and say police have murdered unarmed suspects and staged crime scenes on a massive scale. Police deny this and Duterte insists he told police to kill only in self-defense. — With reports from Jamaine Punzalan and Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News; Reuters