The International Criminal Court (UCC) has recently informed the Philippine embassy in The Hague that it is opening a preliminary examination on alleged mass murder arising from President Rodrigo Duterte’s “war on drugs”, according to The Manila Times Online on Friday (Feb 9).
A complaint alleging that the anti-drug campaign has caused some 8,000 deaths was filed with the ICC by lawyer Jude Sabio about 10 months ago. But the Philippine government was notified of the ICC’s initial probe through its embassy in the Hague only recently.
The preliminary examination will determine whether there is a basis to conduct a formal investigation against Duterte.
“It is not a complaint, it is a communication because there are no charges yet, so it emanated from the communication filed by individuals alleging crimes against humanity in the Philippines,” said Palace spokesman Harry Roque on Thursday.
He added that President Duterte welcomed the ICC’s move as it would give him the opportunity to defend his name and his anti-drug war.
He alleged that the ICC case was initiated by critics of Duterte administration.
“Obviously, it is intended to embarrass the president but the president is a lawyer, he knows what the procedures are. The president has said that if need be he will argue his case personally before the ICC,” he said.
The lawyer behind the case, Sabio said he was elated and vindicated by the prosecutor’s action, adding the court usually threw out many other complaints brought before it.
Roque however said the Philippine mission would tell the court it had no jurisdiction over the case because the tribunal was intended as a “court of last resort” and the Philippine courts are still functioning.