MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte compared himself to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has launched an invasion of Ukraine and has been labeled a war criminal.
During his speech at the inauguration of the Leyte provincial government complex on Thursday, March 17, Duterte said: “Ako diyan sa Russia, nasasakitan ako. Kaibigan ko si Putin eh. (What’s happening in Russia hurts me. Putin is my friend.) He is a personal friend.” (READ: Duterte meets his ‘idol’ Putin)
“Si Putin pinapatay pati civilian doon. Ako? Sino man pinatay ko? Pinatay ko puro kriminal. Bakit ko pinatay? Sa droga,” he said.
(Putin even kills civilians there. Me? Who did I kill? Those I killed were all criminals. Why did I kill them? Drugs.)
As of October 31, 2021, the government recorded 6,215 people killed in police anti-illegal drug operations, but human rights groups estimate the number to be as high as 30,000, including those killed by vigilantes.
In September 2021, the pre-trial chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) green-lit a formal investigation into Duterte’s war on drugs and the killings by the alleged Davao Death Squad, saying Duterte “publicly encouraged extrajudicial killings in a way that is incompatible with a genuine law enforcement operation.”
But in November 2021, ICC chief prosecutor Karim Khan temporarily suspended the investigation into the drug war and killings in Davao City, after the Philippines requested to defer to its government in conducting the probe.
Duterte has long maintained that he will never cooperate with the ICC, and he repeated this sentiment during his speech.
“Tapos itong human rights, pati ICC, International Court, putangina bakit ako mag-international court, hindi man ako international? Local lang ako eh.” (These human rights, the International Criminal Court, son of a bitch, why would I be tried in an international court when I’m only a local?)
He added, “I am a Filipino. If I am accused of something, it must be within the jurisdiction of the Philippines. If I am tried it should be before a Filipino judge. And [the] prosecutor must be a Filipino like me.”
Presidential candidates for the May 2022 elections have expressed varying stances on whether or not the ICC should prosecute Duterte. – Rappler.com
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