• Duterte shrugs off ICC case

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    PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday shrugged off a lawyer’s request for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate him and his administration’s war on illegal drugs.

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    “Let them be. I can’t do anything about that. Nobody can stop [them]from filing,” Duterte told reporters at the sidelines of a joint press conference with visiting Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah in Malacañang.

    “You can even invent one and go to the fiscal’s office now,” the President added.

    In the 77-page complaint before the ICC in The Hague, Netherlands, Jude Sabio, lawyer of self-confessed Davao Death Squad (DDS) hitman Edgar Matobato, accused Duterte and 11 government and police officials of being liable for crimes against humanity for the spate of deaths in the drug war.

    The complaint cited testimonies from Matobato, another self-confessed DDS assassin Arthur Lascañas, and reports from human rights groups and media organizations.

    When asked if he wanted to read the 77-page communication filed by Sabio with the ICC, Duterte said no.
    “Why would I waste my time? If I go to prison, then so be it,” the President said.

    Amid allegations by international human rights groups that police officers carry out extrajudicial killings, Duterte defended the police for carrying out his orders to kill drug suspects.

    “Why would I attribute it to the police when I was the one who ordered? I have to repeat it, I think this will be the nth time, ‘Go out and hunt them. Arrest them. If you’re confronted with a reaction thereby endangering your life, shoot them,’” he said, addressing the police force.

    Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd also dismissed the complaint which he described as “utterly false, purely hearsay.”

    Aguirre was one of the respondents in the complaint.

    “The camp of Matobato and Sabio apparently threw a net in the sea with this case and want to see how many fishes they can catch before the ICC. Sorry to disappoint them this early, they will catch none. Their case is substantially and procedurally infirm and bereft of merit,” the Justice chief said.

    Duterte reiterated that the police force was cleansing its ranks on his orders, and that rogue officers were under investigation.

    More than 7,000 have died in Duterte’s fierce anti-drug campaign, but the administration has maintained that less than half of the figure was the result of legitimate police operations.

    Duterte also lashed out at American newspaper the New York Times for its scathing piece that called for his condemnation, giving the paper back the message it had sent through an editorial on April 25.

    “It’s about time their publication must also stop,” the President said, calling the American publication an “a**hole.”
    The New York Times had described the Filipino leader in its editorial as “a man who must be stopped.”

    It was the first time for Duterte himself to comment on the editorial after earlier statements by Palace officials.

    Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella reiterated that Duterte, who won a landslide victory at the 2016 presidential derby, was committed to ending the proliferation of illegal drugs and criminality in the country.

    with Jomar Canlas

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