Ex-president Duterte 'shrugs off' ICC decision to resume probe into 'drug war'

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
Ex-president Duterte 'shrugs off' ICC decision to resume probe into 'drug war'
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (L) stand beside Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa (R) during Dela Rosa's Assumption of Command Ceremony at the Camp Crame in Manila on July 1, 2016. Authoritarian firebrand Rodrigo Duterte was sworn in as the Philippines' president on June 30, after promising a ruthless and deeply controversial war on crime would be the main focus of his six-year term.
AFP / Noel Celis

MANILA, Philippines — Former President Rodrigo Duterte dismissed the move of the International Criminal Court to reject the Philippine government’s appeal to halt an investigation into his deadly “war on drugs.”

Speaking through his former spokesperson, Duterte reiterated his narrative that only local courts can hear cases involving crimes committed in the country. 

Harry Roque said the former president has “shrugged off” the decision of the ICC judges, which clears the way for the probe into possible crimes against humanity to resume. 

“He [former President Duterte] has time and again said that because of this, he will face all his accusers anytime but before Philippine courts and before Filipino judges only,” Roque said. 

The ICC is a “court of last resort” and steps in and exercises jurisdiction only if countries are unwilling or unable to prosecute offenders. In January, the court's Pre-Trial Chamber earlier noted that the government’s initiative to reexamine “drug war” killings did “not amount to tangible, concrete and progressive investigative steps.”

Duterte’s former police chief, now Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, also said he is “unbothered” by the decision. The chief implementer of the “drug war” said he has not made arrangements for his legal defense if summoned by The Hague-based tribunal. 

A five-judge bench dismissed—by majority—the Philippine government’s objection that the ICC had no jurisdiction because the country pulled out of the court in 2019, some three years before the inquiry was resumed. 

The judges confirmed the January 26 decision of the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber to grant Prosecutor Karim Khan’s request to resume investigation into “drug war” killings. 

Khan will continue gathering evidence, and can request for the issuance of arrest warrants or summonses if he determines that there are substantial grounds to do so.

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said on the eve of the ICC ruling that the country will not implement a warrant should it be issued by the court. 

At least 6,252 have been killed in anti-drug operations, according to data released by the government. But rights groups say that up to 30,000 may have been killed—some innocent victims. 

READMarcos admin 'disappointed' with ICC's decision, stresses minority position

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