Duterte Fact Checks

FACT CHECK: ICC probe ongoing, no ‘guilty’ verdict issued vs Duterte


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FACT CHECK: ICC probe ongoing, no ‘guilty’ verdict issued vs Duterte
A video falsely claims that the International Criminal Court has found former president Rodrigo Duterte guilty in relation to the drug war killings under his administration

Claim: The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued its decision finding former president Rodrigo Duterte guilty of crimes against humanity in relation to his administration’s war on drugs. 

Rating: FALSE

Why we fact-checked this: The video bearing the claim was posted on February 25 by a YouTube channel with over 632,000 subscribers. As of writing, the video has garnered 4,387 views and 95 likes.

The title and thumbnail of the video bears the claim, with text on the thumbnail stating: “ICC may desisyon na! Duterte, guilty!” (ICC has already made a decision! Duterte, guilty!)

The facts: Contrary to the claim, Duterte has not been found guilty of the charges against him, nor has he been acquitted. The ICC has not issued any official decision or announcement on its website regarding its investigation of the human rights abuses committed during the Duterte administration’s war on illegal drugs

The video did not provide any evidence to back up its claim that a verdict has already been reached. Instead, it merely featured audio of former presidential spokesperson Harry Roque calling on the current Marcos administration to put in writing the Philippines’ non-cooperation with the ICC on its ongoing probe.

The posting of the misleading video coincides with recent opinion polls that showed growing public support for the Netherlands-based tribunal’s investigation. A Social Weather Stations poll conducted in December 2023 and released in February 2024 indicated that 53% of Filipinos approve of the probe, while 56% agree that the Philippine government should allow the ICC investigation. Similarly, a December 2023 OCTA Research poll, released in February 2024, showed that 59% of Filipinos support the Philippines rejoining the ICC.

ICC investigation: In 2018, then-ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda opened a preliminary examination into the drug war killings. Under the Duterte administration’s “war on drugs” campaign, at least 6,252 individuals were killed in police operations as of May 2022, while human rights groups estimate that between 27,000 to 30,000 people were killed in vigilante-style executions. 

In 2021, the ICC Office of the Prosecutor formally requested authorization from the court’s pre-trial chamber (PTC) to open a full investigation. In September that year, the PTC granted the request to look into Duterte’s drug war and killings by the so-called Davao Death Squad between 2011 and 2016.

In November 2021, the ICC temporarily suspended its investigation to consider the Philippines’ request to defer to the Philippine government in conducting the probe. The ICC resumed its probe in July 2023 after dismissing the Philippine government’s request and appeal. (TIMELINE: The International Criminal Court and Duterte’s bloody war on drugs)

Non-cooperation with ICC: President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has said his government will not cooperate with the ICC probe. This stance was further emphasized by Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla who “firmly asserted” the ICC’s lack of jurisdiction over the Philippines. (TIMELINE: What the Marcos administration says about the International Criminal Court) 

Amid growing support for the probe and calls for the Philippine government to cooperate with the ICC, the President reiterated his concerns about the investigation, stating on February 20 that it “opens a Pandora’s box.” Marcos said “sufficient answers” to the questions regarding “jurisdiction and sovereignty” are still needed.  

Rappler has debunked similar false claims on the ICC issuing a verdict and summons related to the drug war killings. – Marie Flor Cabarrubias/Rappler.com

Marie Flor Cabarrubias is a graduate of Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program. This fact check was reviewed by a member of Rappler’s research team and a senior editor. Learn more about Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program here.

Keep us aware of suspicious Facebook pages, groups, accounts, websites, articles, or photos in your network by contacting us at factcheck@rappler.com. Let us battle disinformation one Fact Check at a time.

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