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Duterte Gov't Again Rejects ICC Investigation into War on Drugs

No jurisdiction says Duterte lawyer.
by Arianne Merez and Agence France Presse
21 hours ago

President Rodrigo Duterte's administration insisted Thursday that the International Criminal Court had no jurisdiction over the Philippines after the body authorized a full investigation into the government's war on drugs.

The Philippine justice system is working, Duterte's chief legal counsel Salvador Panelo said as he questioned the timing of the ICC decision, over two years since the Philippines withdrew from the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the international body.

"Our position concerning the proceedings before the International Criminal Court remains. The foreign institution has no — as it never had — jurisdiction over the affairs of the Republic of the Philippines and its people," Panelo said in a statement.

"We stress that we are able and willing to prosecute those who abuse their power and commit crimes against the citizenry if only genuine complainants come forward to the proper authorities instead of personalities who will use their plight for political ambitions," he added.

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ICC judges said there was "reasonable basis" to believe that the crime against humanity of murder had been committed in the crackdown, which has left thousands of people dead.

Duterte pulled Manila out of the Hague-based court in 2019 after it launched a preliminary probe, but the ICC said it had jurisdiction over crimes committed while the Philippines was still a member

Panelo claimed that the ICC was being used as a "political and propaganda" tool by critics of Duterte "who will do anything to dethrone the President from his seat."

"While we expect that more theatrics will be employed by the detractors of the President as election season draws near, this blatant and brazen interference and assault on our sovereignty as an independent country by the ICC is condemnable," Panelo said.

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At least 6,181 people have been killed in over 200,000 anti-drug operations conducted since July 2016, according to the latest official data released by the Philippines in July this year. 

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ICC prosecutors in court papers estimate the figure to be between 12,000 to 30,000 slain victims.

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