Sara Duterte

Sara Duterte ready to help ICC drug war probe if nat’l government agrees

Pia Ranada
Sara Duterte ready to help ICC drug war probe if nat’l government agrees

OPEN TO PROBE? Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte is ready to provide documents to the ICC, but only if the national government gives the green light.

Davao City's Facebook

Then-ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda wants to investigate killings in Davao City from 2011 to 2016, a period that covers years when Sara Duterte was mayor

Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, also daughter of President Rodrigo Duterte, said she would cooperate with a potential International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation into drug-related extrajudicial killings, but only if the national government agrees with the probe too.

“Yes, the City Government of Davao is ready. We will await the instructions of the National Government through the DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government),” she said in a message to Rappler on Wednesday, June 16.

She, however, insisted that Davao City shouldn’t be included in now retired ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s probe into crimes against humanity under her father’s leadership.

Told that Bensouda sees a link between pre-2016 Davao City killings and the killings during Duterte’s presidency, Sara said, “I’ve not read that in her statement but just the same whatever the DILG will say, LGU (local government unit) will follow.”

“If the National Government needs anything from the City Government of Davao we are ready to provide, whatever it may be,” the younger Duterte also said.

Strong links between Davao killings and national war on drugs

Bensouda asked the ICC’s pre-trial chamber to allow her to probe killings in Davao City from 2011 to 2016 after seeing strong links and similarities to the drug war implemented under Duterte’s presidency.

“Given the similarities between those killings and the nationwide WoD (war on drugs) killings from July 2016 to March 2019, and the overlap of individuals involved during both periods, the Prosecution requests
that the 2011-2016 events in Davao be included within the requested investigation,” wrote Bensouda.

Though the mayor’s remarks are a departure from Malacañang’s insistence that the Philippines will not cooperate in a possible ICC probe, Sara’s cooperation is conditioned on the national government’s willingness.

The Palace has already said the national government will not cooperate as long as Duterte is president.

But with the national elections less than a year away and the uncertainty on when the ICC’s pre-trial chamber will decide on Bensouda’s request to investigate, it’s possible that summons and arrest warrants for Duterte would be issued under another Philippine president who may not be friendly or sympathetic.

It would then be up to that president whether or not to cooperate.

Sara is being pushed by many of her father’s supporters and even Cabinet members to run for president in 2022.

Surveys released by Pulse Asia show she is a top preference among Filipinos to succeed her father in Malacañang.

The 2011 to 2016 period of Davao City killings Bensouda wants to investigate include years when Sara was mayor. She was the city’s chief executive from 2011 to 2013, while her father, the current president, was vice mayor. –

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at