Philippines says President Duterte will not cooperate with ICC drugs war probe

Published : September 16, 2021 13:41 IST

Rodrigo Duterte won the presidency in the Philippines on an anti-drug and corruption platform in 2016. Photo: AP

President Duterte's legal counsel said the Hague-based war crimes court has no jurisdiction to probe the Philippines' anti-drug crackdown. He added that ICC investigators will not be allowed entry into the country.

The Philippines will not cooperate with the International Criminal Court's investigation into President Rodrigo Duterte's "war on drugs," his lawyer said on September 16.

This comes a day after ICC judges approved a full probe into the President's signature anti-narcotics campaign in which, rights groups say, tens of thousands of people were killed. Duterte "will not cooperate since first of all, the Philippines has left the Rome statute, so the ICC no longer has jurisdiction over the country," chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo told local radio DZBB.

"The government will not let in any ICC member to collect information and evidence here in the Philippines, they will be barred entry," Panelo added.

Does the ICC have jurisdiction to investigate?

Duterte pulled the Philippines out of the Hague-based court in 2019 after it launched a preliminary probe into his drug war. However, the ICC argued that it has jurisdiction for crimes committed between 2016 and 2019. The ICC judges on Wednesday said Duterte's drug war resembled an illegitimate and systematic attack on civilians, adding that there was a "reasonable basis" to believe that crimes against humanity were committed during the crackdown.

According to official data, at least 6,181 people have been killed in more than 200,000 anti-drug operations since July 2016. Rights groups have accused the President of inciting deadly violence in the form of extra-judicial killings and alleged that police executed unarmed drug suspects.

Duterte shrugs off probe

The firebrand leader has repeatedly attacked the tribunal, calling it "bullshit," and even dared the ICC to put him on trial. He defended his anti-drug campaign during his last State of the Nation address, saying it had cut crime and improved peace and order.

Duterte won the Presidency on an anti-drug platform, ends his six-year term in June 2022. He has announced his plans to run for Vice-President.

adi/sms (AFP, Reuters)

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