Duterte will face only Philippine courts on drug deaths
In his first public remarks on the drug war since the ICC chief prosecutor requested for authority to probe the killings in the Philippines, Duterte said he had to act against drug syndicates or they would destroy the country.
Presidential Photo/Simeon Celi, Jr.

Duterte will face only Philippine courts on drug deaths

Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - June 23, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte has expressed readiness to defend himself against allegations linking him to extrajudicial killings, but only before a Philippine court, saying he cannot expect justice from the International Criminal Court (ICC).

He described the ICC as a “b***s*** filled with white people.”

In his first public remarks on the drug war since the ICC chief prosecutor requested for authority to probe the killings in the Philippines, Duterte said he had to act against drug syndicates or they would destroy the country.

“They say I killed them. I don’t know if it is true or not. It’s just a rumor. But how do I go about this? That’s why this ICC is b***s***. I will not. Why would I defend or face an accusation before white people? You must be crazy,” Duterte said during a public address last Monday.

“Now, they are trying to set up a court outside our country and making us liable to face them. They do not know the law... Our laws are different. Our criminal procedure is very different. How will you suppose to get justice there?” he added.

Duterte said the ICC is composed of people from “colonizer” countries that have not atoned for the sins they committed against the countries they invaded.

“Ako magharap ng mga puti? L**** kayo (You expect me to face white people? You son of a b****),” he said. “I will readily face a court, being accused in a Philippine court, before a Filipino judge.”

A day before she retired as ICC chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda requested for authority to investigate the Philippines’ anti-drug campaign.

Bensouda said there is “reasonable basis” to believe that the crime against humanity of murder has been committed between July 1, 2016 and March 16, 2019 in relation to the anti-drug campaign.

Philippine officials have questioned Bensouda’s conclusion, saying it was based mainly on “hearsay.”

Duterte said he is angry with the ICC because it does not take into account the number of people who are involved in illegal drug trade.

“This is narco politics. There are mayors, some of them are dead, well, I’m sorry. Some mayors, almost last year, the mayors who died the other year on the average, because they entered the drug trade. Now, we are not saying that we are killing them. We kill them because they fight back,” Duterte said.

“Many mayors have died. And yet it goes on and on every day, transactions there, transactions there, and we are able to seize in bulk. Sometimes, this b**** reaches billions,” he said.

Duterte said he wants to slap the ICC judges and that he can defend himself against his accusers.

“Loko-loko pala kayo eh (You are crazy)... You want my country to go down the drain. I was a prosecutor. Of course I can defend myself,” he said.

“I did not say, ‘You kill Mr. Santos, Alex.’ I never said that. But I said, ‘I will kill you if you destroy my country.’ That’s what I said. That’s true. And that I concede that I really said that. And I will keep on saying that.”

Duterte insisted that the Rome Statute, which created the ICC, was never enforced in the Philippines because it was not published in the Official Gazette.

“So how are we supposed to know about these g**d*** laws or the laws of the ICC?”

Duterte withdrew the Philippines from the Rome Statute in 2018 after the ICC announced its decision to conduct a preliminary examination on the Philippines’ war on drugs.

The ICC has insisted that the Philippines still has the obligation to cooperate with a probe despite its withdrawal from the treaty.

Cooperation crucial

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the cooperation of witnesses and victims’ family members are crucial in the drug war review that his department is conducting.

Guevarra was reacting to a statement issued by United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, who said the internal drug war review being conducted by the Philippine government should lead to meaningful results.

Although Guevarra gave the assurance that their drug war review panel would follow the trail of the evidence, the success of the review would depend on the extent of cooperation that would be given by the victims’ families as well as those who witnessed or have knowledge about the commission of the crime.

“The cooperation of the victims’ families and their witnesses is crucial. Unless they come forward and testify, it would be extremely difficult for our investigating agencies to build up cases against erring law enforcers,” said Guevarra.

He said the families of the victims and the witnesses could file their complaints directly with the Department of Justice or the Office of the Ombudsman without waiting for the results of the review.

Guevarra assured the witnesses and the victims’ families that the DOJ would protect them.

Meanwhile, Sen. Risa Hontiveros is seeking a Senate inquiry into the deaths of children and teenagers in police operations.

Hontiveros filed Senate Resolution 776 in response to the death of 16-year-old Johndy Maglinte and his companion Antonio Dalit during a police operation in Biñan, Laguna recently. – Evelyn Macairan, Cecille Suerte Felipe

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