President Rodrigo Duterte has ruled out any chance of facing trial abroad over his anti-drug campaign.
He said he would only cooperate in a probe launched by a local court instead of a foreign body composed of “white people” and “ex-colonizers”.
Duterte on Monday launched a profanity-laced tirade against the International Criminal Court (ICC) for considering a possible investigation into his bloody drug war.
“This ICC is bulls**t. Why would I defend or face an accusation before white people? You must be crazy. They used to be colonizers,” he said in a speech.
“They have not atoned for their sins against the countries that they invaded including the Philippines. And now, they’re trying to set up a court outside our country and making us liable to face them,” the President added.
Duterte expressed doubt that justice can be attained in the Hague-based tribunal, considered as the world’s court of last resort.
He said he would only answer to local courts, adding he is ready to defend himself from a possible investigation into his anti-narcotics drive.
“Me, facing white people? I will readily face a court being accused in a Philippine court before a Filipino judge,” the President said.
“Our laws are different. Our criminal procedure is very different. How are you supposed to get justice there?” he asked.
The ICC is composed of four primary organs: The presidency, the judicial divisions, the office of the prosecutor, and the registry.
The court is currently led by Judge Piotr Hofmański from Poland, who assumed the ICC presidency last March.
Judge Luz del Carmen Ibáñez Carranza from Peru serves as ICC’s first vice president, while Judge Antoine Kesia-Mbe Mindua from the Democratic Republic of the Congo is second vice president.
The pre-trial division consists of Mindua, Judges Péter Kovács (Hungary), Tomoko Akane (Japan), Reine Alapini-Gansou (Benin), Rosario Salvatore Aitala (Italy), Socorro Flores Liera (Mexico), and Sergio Gerardo Ugalde Godínez (Costa Rica).
Judges Kimberly Prost (Canada), Bertram Schmitt (Germany), Chang-ho Chung (South Korea), Joanna Korner (United Kingdom), Miatta Maria Samba (Sierra Leone), Althea Violet Alexis-Windsor (Trinidad and Tobago), and Raul Cano Pangalangan (Philippines) are part of the trial division.
The appeals division, meanwhile, consists of Hofmański, Carranza, Judges Marc Perrin de Brichambaut (France), Solomy Balungi Bossa (Uganda), and Gocha Lordkipanidze (Georgia).
This was the first time Duterte publicly commented on the formal request of retired ICC top prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to open a full investigation into the alleged crimes against humanity committed in the Philippines during the government’s drug war.
Malacañang earlier said the President has “shrugged off” Bensouda’s request as he believes the evidence against him is hearsay. The Palace, however, described the looming probe on the drug war as “legally erroneous” and “politically motivated”.
Meanwhile, Duterte reiterated the need to launch a massive anti-drug campaign, saying that without such, narco-politics would “destroy” the Philippines.
“If you do not move against them, it will destroy our country. This is narco-politics,” he said, claiming that some government officials were involved in the illegal drug trade. “We kill them because they fight back”.
Investigations about the Philippines — if permitted — would be done by Bensouda’s successor, British international lawyer Karim Khan, who took over the post on 16 June.
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 international court.
Duterte announced in March 2018 that the Philippines was withdrawing from the court, a month after Bensouda said the ICC was opening a preliminary examination on drug-related deaths, including those killed for allegedly resisting arrest or were purportedly gunned down by vigilantes.
The Philippines officially withdrew from the ICC in March 2019, exactly a year after the United Nations Secretary-General received notification.
Security forces said they have killed 6,117 drug dealers in sting operations from the time Duterte took office in 2016 until the end of April this year, but human rights groups peg the fatalities at 20,000.