PRRD confident ICC prosecutor won't go beyond prelim exam

Rodrigo Duterte

Harry Roque Thursday the ICC's Office of the Prosecutor informed Philippines officials they were conducting a preliminary inquiry into whether an investigation is needed."The President has said that he also welcomes this preliminary examination because he is sick and exhausted of being accused of the commission of crimes against humanity", Roque said.

However, the firebrand leader notorious for his defiance of worldwide pressure questioned whether the ICC had jurisdiction to indict him over the deaths of thousands of Filipinos in his war on drugs.

The ICC's preliminary examination was triggered by the communication filed by Filipino lawyer Jude Sabio in April a year ago accusing Duterte and other government senior officials of committing crimes against humanity due to the war on drugs.

"I welcome you. If you want to find me guilty, go ahead".

The government has many times denied involvement in summary killings, saying the almost 4,000 drug suspects killed in police operations had put up violent resistance, prompting officers to defend themselves.

"I would ask for the rare privilege of talking to you".

"If you haul me into a rigmarole of trial and trial, no need". She stressed that her preliminary probe is "not an investigation, but a process of examining the information available in order to reach a fully informed determination on whether there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation".

Activists believe the death toll is far higher and accuse police or systematic cover-ups and executions.

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Gascon's commission has also sought to investigate the drug war killings but has been hampered by a lack of cooperation from other government agencies like the police as well as limited resources.

Bensouda explained that under global legal principles, national jurisdictions are primarily responsible for investigations and prosecutions.

"The ICC may only exercise jurisdiction where domestic courts are incapable of carrying out the proper proceedings", Dy said in a statement.

Duterte's legal counsel and his attorney general on Friday said several cases related to the anti-drugs crackdown were pending in courts and a Senate investigation had found no evidence of wrongdoing.

Duterte said it was doubtful the ICC had jurisdiction in the Philippines because its accession to the ICC's Rome Statute in 2011 had never been announced in the country's official gazette, as required to be considered lawful.

Roque said Dutete "was this confident" because former United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on extralegal killings, Philip Alston earlier cleared him of any possible criminal liability when workings of the so-called Davao Death Squad were investigated.

As for the Philippines, she said that although some drug war killings "have reportedly occurred in the context of clashes between or within gangs", it is alleged that "many of the reported incidents involved extrajudicial killings in the course of police anti-drug operations". "There is no provision for extrajudicial killing, it is not defined anywhere".

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