Duterte jokes about going to jail over ICC complaint

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star
Duterte jokes about going to jail over ICC complaint
President Rodrigo Duterte talks to the people after holding a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases core members at the Malacañang Golf (Malago) Clubhouse in Malacañang Park, Manila on May 13, 2021.
Presidential Photo / Robinson Niñal Jr.

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte made light of the decision of the International Criminal Court (ICC) pre-trial chamber to allow a probe of his controversial drug war, saying he has to prepare the clothes and snacks he would bring with him to jail.

During a meeting of the government’s pandemic task force last Monday, presidential spokesman Harry Roque informed Duterte about how he answered questions related to the chamber’s decision to approve an investigation of the drug crackdown.

Roque reiterated that the Philippines has no obligation to cooperate with the probe because the Philippines is no longer part of the ICC. He added that foreign investigators cannot look into a crime that happened in the Philippines because the country exercises sovereignty and jurisdiction “to the exclusion of all other states.”

Duterte thanked Roque for his report and asked Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo to deliver his statement.

“And now, finally, my presidential legal counsel, I want him to clarify when I would go to jail so I can pack my clothes and bring some snacks while I age in jail,” the President said. Panelo told Duterte he won’t go to jail because the ICC has no jurisdiction over the Philippines.

In a decision issued last week, the pre-trial chamber said there is a “reasonable basis” to proceed with an investigation on the killings tied to the drug war, and that the crime against humanity of murder “appears to have been committed.”

PNP drug operations

The Department of Justice (DOJ) submitted last week to Malacañang its report on the 52 police drug war cases that were conducted during the term of President Duterte that resulted in death.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the review panel finished its report on the 52 drug operations conducted by the Philippine National Police (PNP) and they are just “waiting for the President’s action.”

He, however, did not not disclose the review panel’s findings and recommendations as to not pre-empt the President.

Guevarra added that they also intend to inform the PNP of the panel’s findings and recommendations.

The DOJ Secretary also advised the public to listen to President Duterte’s speech before the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly today, but did not confirm if the drug war report would be mentioned.

ICC ‘politicized’

Meanwhile, in a privilege speech last Monday afternoon, House appropriations committee chairman Eric Yap slammed what he described as the politicization of the ICC, as he questioned the timing of the investigation on killings and human rights violations under the drug war.

“The ICC is already being used as a political tool by opponents or those who want to bring down the Duterte administration,” he said in Filipino.

The ACT-CIS and Benguet caretaker congressman assailed why the ICC would commence the investigation just as the campaign season for the 2022 elections is set to start.

“My question to the ICC, how much is the reason that was given for them to do this? The timing is doubtful… that after their silence, suddenly, as the political season was to start, this ICC would emerge. And they even want to investigate Davao City for the alleged deaths of addicts,” he pointed out.

Yap believes Davao City is merely being dragged into the discussions because it is Duterte’s hometown.

Yap believes that the drug war has actually been successful as widely recognized by the public due to the significant drop in number of drug pushers and addicts that also resulted in a lower crime rate nationwide.

“The drug war is a victory, the number of addicts was decreased. I am not only saying this as this can be proven,” he argued. – Edu Punay, Evelyn Macairan

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