Duterte Fact Checks

FACT CHECK: No ICC ruling acquitting Duterte in drug war killings


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FACT CHECK: No ICC ruling acquitting Duterte in drug war killings
The International Criminal Court is currently still investigating the former president in relation to the drug war killings under his administration

Claim: The International Criminal Court (ICC) has acquitted former president Rodrigo Duterte from charges 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 by a YouTube channel with over 17,800  subscribers. As of writing, the video has garnered 14,494 views, 162 likes, and 44 comments. 

The title and thumbnail of the video bore the claim, with text on the thumbnail stating: “Tatay Digong abswelto na sa ICC” (Duterte acquitted by the ICC).

The facts: Duterte has not been acquitted by the ICC, which is currently still investigating the drug war killings. The war crimes tribunal has not issued any official announcement or ruling on its website regarding the alleged acquittal. 

The video does not provide any official documentation or evidence to support its claim. Instead, the video features a voiceover of former presidential spokesperson Harry Roque warning of possible chaos in the country if Duterte is arrested.

Status of the ICC investigation: The misleading video was posted amid recent speculation that a warrant of arrest against the former president was on the horizon. During a Facebook Live stream on February 4, Roque claimed that Duterte told him he received information about his impending arrest. 

However, this assertion cannot be verified because “warrants of arrest may be issued confidentially (under seal) or publicly, depending on the circumstances,” according to the ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor, referring to general cases.

The ICC is continuing its investigation following its July 2023 dismissal of the Philippine government’s appeal to stop the probe into the killings committed during the Duterte administration’s “war on drugs” campaign. Under the bloody crackdown on illegal drugs, at least 6,252 individuals were killed in police operations, while between 27,000 to 30,000 were killed in vigilante-style executions, according to human rights groups.

The ICC initiated a preliminary examination in 2018 and opened its investigation in September 2021. (TIMELINE: The International Criminal Court and Duterte’s bloody war on drugs)

Marcos administration’s response: Amid alleged cracks in the alliance between Duterte and Marcos, there have been calls in recent months for the Marcos government to cooperate with the ICC investigation. (READ: How politics is turning the tide in ICC probe into Duterte drug war)

In November 2023, Marcos said that his administration is studying the possible return of the Philippines to the ICC after Duterte withdrew the country’s membership in 2018 – contradicting his previous strong stance on the issue. (TIMELINE: What the Marcos administration says about the International Criminal Court)

On January 23, 2024, Marcos reaffirmed the Philippines’ non-cooperation with the ICC, stating that the country “will not lift a finger” to help in the investigation. – 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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