'Hang me': Duterte vows to never answer Int'l Criminal Court

MANILA, Philippines - In his latest outburst against the International Criminal Court (ICC), President Rodrigo Duterte dared the international tribunal to hang or jail him over killings linked to his anti-illegal drug campaign, vowing never to cooperate with foreign probes.

"You do not scare me na pakulong mo ako diyan sa (that I will be jailed by the) International Court – Criminal Court. Tangina (Son of a bitch), I will never allow myself to answer itong mga puti (to these whites).... If you hang me for all what I did, go ahead. It will be my pleasure," Duterte said in a speech at the closing of the ROTC Summit at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila on Friday, December 20.

"I will never, never, never answer any question coming from you. It’s bullshit to me. I am responsible only to the Filipino. Ang maghusga, Filipino (Filipinos will be the one to judge)," he added as the audience applauded.

Why this matters. The possibility of trial draws closer as ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda earlier announced she will decide by 2020 whether she will seek authorization to open an investigation into the high number of killings in Duterte's war on drugs.

The first step in the ICC's process to establish jurisdiction to handle the case was taken in February 2018 after a preliminary examination into the drug war was opened. Jurisdiction will be established if Bensouda determines that the Philippines is unable or unwilling to investigate the killings itself.

If an investigation is opened, Bensouda will seek the authority of the pre-trial chamber or PTC. Once granted, the PTC judges can issue summons and arrest orders.

Several communications filed with the ICC named Duterte as respondent, as well as former police chief Ronald dela Rosa. Though Duterte has withdrawn the Philippines from the ICC, the Court maintains its authority over the case because the examinations were opened before the withdrawal.

Impunity continues. The government has reported over 5,000 people have been killed in the war on drugs. However, in an interview with ABS-CBN in December 2018, the Commission on Human Rights estimated the death toll to be as high as 27,000, including those believed to be inspired by Duterte's violent tirades. 

Duterte ended his rant once again cursing human rights defenders for their "limited" view of his landmark anti-drug campaign.

"What’s to them a dead carcass there – criminal.... Gusto ko nga magharap tayo ng korte (In fact, I want to face you in court). I want to debate with you about what ails this country and I’d be happy to answer you and to condemn you. Hindi niyo ako matalo (You won't defeat me)," he said. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

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