Palace: Duterte's Senate bid unrelated to ICC 'drug war' probe

Palace: Duterte's Senate bid unrelated to ICC 'drug war' probe
President Rodrigo Duterte presides over a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members prior to his talk to the people at the Malacañang Golf (Malago) Clubhouse in Malacañang Park, Manila on December 16.
Presidential Photo / Ace Morandante

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte's surprise decision to run for senator is not related to the preliminary investigation by the International Criminal Court into alleged crimes against humanity in the government's "war on drugs", the Palace said Tuesday.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, acting presidential spokesperson, said this in his first press briefing after his predecessor resigned to run for senator.

"President Duterte's decision to run for senator has nothing to do with the ICC. He wants to continue his service to the people. Since his term as president is ending, he believes in his heart that he can still contribute to public service," Nograles said in Filipino. 

The Hague-based ICC has already greenlit a full investigation into the "war on drugs". Reps. Arlene Brosas (Gabriela) and Carlos Zarate (Bayan Muna) have slammed Duterte's Senate bid as "a desperate and vain attempt to evade prosecution [that] they can use as a shield from the numerous cases coming their way."

Nograles said Tuesday that "there is no evasion of prosecution here, and there is no truth to all those accusations."

Duterte said earlier this year that he would run for vice president, claiming that would give him immunity from the ICC probe.

He changed his mind about running but changed his mind again over the weekend, with his communications secretary saying he would run for vice president — a post his daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio is also seeking. He eventually filed as a subsitute candidate for senator.

READ: Palace won't let ICC probers in the Philippines

The court retains its jurisdiction over events that took place while the Philippines was a member state despite the fact that Manila left the court in 2019 following a preliminary inquiry into alleged extrajudicial killings in the anti-narcotics campaign.

Duterte has been defiant towards the ICC and its planned investigation. The Philippine government does not intend to cooperate with the ICC, stressing the country has domestic processes for alleged abuses.

Official police data acknowledge over 6,100 deaths in official anti-drug operations. But rights groups say that the true death toll may be as high as 30,000.

The newly-appointed Philippine National Police chief has promised a "2022 finale" to the "drug war", vowing to give past PNP chiefs' initiatives a "shot in the arm."

Sen. Ronald dela Rosa, in the running for president for little more than a month, said that, if elected president, he would protect "but also myself because we are both co-accused in the case there." 

Dela Rosa has withdrawn as candidate but Duterte's longtime aide Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go is running for president instead.  — Franco Luna 



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