Not waging a drug war will ‘destroy’ PH, says Duterte as possible ICC probe looms
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte condemned the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Monday for considering a possible investigation into his war against illegal drugs, saying that without such a campaign narco-politics would “destroy” the Philippines.
In his taped weekly “Talk to the People” briefing, Duterte pointed out that the drug menace was still rampant.
“Every day, we are able to seize shabu [crystal meth]. This is what is not seen… That’s why I’m angry at the ICC. Just imagine, almost 700 [to0 800 people all over the Philippines are arrested — different people. These are not people who keep returning,” he said, speaking partly in Filipino.
“If you do not move against them, it will destroy our country. This is narco-politics. There are mayors — some are already dead. I’m sorry, several mayors, almost last year… who died…. because they got into drugs,” he added.
Duterte has been accused before the ICC of committing crimes against humanity in connection with his administration’s drug war, in which law enforcers allegedly engaged in extrajudicial killings (EJKs).
Last Monday, June 14, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced that she had asked for judicial authorization to probe the case against Duterte, saying that there was a sufficient basis to believe that law enforcers committed EJKs either directly or indirectly during the drug war.
But for Duterte, the drug suspects who died — including local officials — were really involved in the drug trade.
“Now we are not saying that we are killing them,” he said. “We kill them because they fight back. That’s really how it is if you go to the history of Mexico. Mexico is almost a failed state […] So if this goes on, where are we headed? What will then happen to my country?” he said.
Furthermore, he insisted that he would not cooperate in any probe that would be done by “white” people — preferring to face a Filipino court.
“So this ICC, this is bullshit, I will not… Why would I defend or face an accusation before white people? You must be crazy. ‘The colonizers in the past, they have not atoned for their sins against the countries that they invaded, including the Philippines. Now, they’re trying to set up a court outside our country, and making us liable, to face them,” Duterte said.
“Our laws are different, our criminal procedures are different. How are you supposed to get justice there? […] How are you supposed to know about these goddamn laws, these laws of the ICC? Mga ulol [Crazy people]. Now I’m supposed to face whites. Leche kayo [damn you], I would readily face a court, being accused in a Philippine court, before a Filipino judge,” he added.
In her announcement on Monday, Bensouda said the estimated death toll of the drug war was from 12,000 to 30,000 people.
“These extrajudicial killings, perpetrated across the Philippines, appear to have been committed pursuant to an official State policy of the Philippine government. Police and other government officials planned, ordered, and sometimes directly perpetrated extrajudicial killings,” Bensouda said in her formal request for a probe.
“They paid police officers and vigilantes bounties for extrajudicial killings. State officials at the highest levels of government also spoke publicly and repeatedly in support of extrajudicial killings, and created a culture of impunity for those who committed them,” she added.
Investigations about the Philippines – if permitted – would be done by Bensouda’s successor, Karim Khan, who took over her post on June 16.
In December 2019, the ICC vowed to continue assessing the complaints against Duterte even though the Philippines had withdrawn from the Rome Statute, which created the ICC.
The ICC said that it still had jurisdiction over Duterte’s case as it had been filed before the withdrawal. The information about the case was filed in August 2018, while the Philippines withdrew from the ICC in March 2019.
In her statement, Bensouda repeated that the ICC still had jurisdiction over the Philippines as the alleged crimes occurred before the withdrawal — a situation, she said, that was similar to a case involving the Republic of Burundi.
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