PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte said that the International Criminal Court (ICC) could not have jurisdiction over him amid its inquiry into his administration’s controversial war on illegal drugs.
Duterte’s statement comes after the United Nations (UN) human rights Chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein criticized the President for ordering the Philippine National Police (PNP) to ignore any investigation into the drug war.
In a speech delivered in Clark, Pampanga on Wednesday night, Duterte expressed confidence that the ICC investigation on his alleged commission of crimes against humanity would not prosper because of its supposed lack of 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,'” the President said before the local chief executives of Luzon.
Duterte then 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 deplored Duterte’s separate orders to the police not to cooperate with any investigation into the drug war.
Zeid also criticized Duterte for the alleged “vilification” of Callamard, who has been prohibited from visiting the country and conducting an investigation.
As signatory to many international treaties and member of the UN Human Rights Council, Zeid said the Philippine government “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 said.
The ICC began its preliminary examination of the communication filed about Duterte’s alleged crimes against humanity as a result of his anti-illegal drugs war.
The ICC has jurisdiction on genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.
The preliminary examination stemmed from the complaint filed by Jude Sabio, lawyer of Edgar Matobato, a self-confessed member of the Davao Death Squad, which was linked to Duterte when he was still mayor of Davao City.
In his speech on Wednesday, Duterte reiterated that he would step up the government’s anti-drug campaign despite the ICC move.
“In 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,” Duterte said.
The President also maintained that he was willing to take “full and legal” responsibility for possible criminal liability that may arise from his anti-narcotics drive.
“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 compromise the country and the next generation. Then, it would have been my failure in my time because I did not do anything,” he added.