President Rodrigo Duterte has insisted that the International Criminal Court (ICC) cannot have jurisdiction over him amid its inquiry into the administration’s controversial war on illegal drugs.
The United Nations human rights chief had slammed Duterte for ordering the Philippine National Police to ignore any investigation of his administration’s drug crackdown.
In a speech delivered in Clark, Pampanga, on Wednesday night, the President expressed confidence that the ICC probe of his alleged commission of crimes against humanity will not prosper because the court lacks jurisdiction.
“Go ahead, you investigate me. But I assure you, sabi ko sa kanila [I tell them], ‘You will never have jurisdiction over my person,’” he said before local chief executives of Luzon.
Duterte lashed out at ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions Agnes Callamard, describing them as “black” and “undernourished,” respectively.
“Pero pagka ngayon magkasalubong kami, ah lalo ‘yung mga mga abogado nila ‘yung itim pati ‘yung isa ’yung payat, si Callamard, undernourished, walang kain, Don’t f*** with me, girls [But if I meet them, especially the black lawyer, [Bensouda], and the slim one, Callamard, who is undernourished and not eating, don’t f*** with me, girls]” he said.
On March 1, Duterte told police to ignore UN special rapporteurs, insisting that they have no right to “interfere” in the way he runs the country.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said he deplores Duterte’s separate orders to the police not to cooperate with any inquiry into the drug war.
Zeid had also criticized Duterte for alleged “vilification” of Callamard, who has been prohibited from visiting the country and conducting an investigation of the government’s war on drugs.
As signatory to many international treaties and member of the UN Human Rights Council, the Philippine government, he said, “has a duty to uphold human rights and to engage with persons appointed.”
“This authoritarian approach to governance threatens to irreparably damage 30 years of commendable efforts by the Philippines to strengthen the rule of law and respect for the human rights of the people,” Zeid added.
The ICC began its preliminary examination of the communication filed about Duterte’s alleged crimes against humanity as a result of his war on drugs.
It has jurisdiction on genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
The preliminary examination stemmed from a complaint filed by Jude Sabio, lawyer of Edgar Matobato, a self-confessed member of the so-called Davao Death Squad, which was linked to Duterte when he was still mayor of Davao City in southern Philippines.
In his Wednesday’s speech, Duterte reiterated that he would continue to step up the government’s anti-drug campaign despite the ICC move.
“On the matter of drugs, it [war on drugs]will not stop, despite or in spite of the threats of ICC and everything. I don’t care about them,” he said.
The President maintained that he is willing to take “full and legal” responsibility for possible criminal liability that might arise from his drive against narcotics.
“To the army and police, do not be afraid [of]fulfilling your mandate. Do not mind [criticisms]since human rights and ICC are blaming me. Let them be. I take full and legal responsibility for things that are happening, intended or not intended. That’s mine,” Duterte said
“Just do your job. Don’t be afraid. I’m willing to be jailed for that, just to be clear. I’m here to protect my country. I believe that if I stop this crusade [against illegal drugs], it would have compromised the country and the next generation. Then, it would have been my failure in my time because I did not do anything,” he added.