'Just Stick to the Facts': Duterte Reveals He's Begun Preparing for His Defense in ICC Probe
The Hague-based court earlier announced in September that it had launched an official probe into the Filipino president's anti-narcotics campaign, which human rights groups say has killed tens of thousands of people as part of a larger systematic strike against civilians.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has indicated that he is in the midst of preparing for his defense against a probe by the International Criminal Court (ICC) into the officials' so-called "War on Drugs."
Offering a fresh remark on the case, Duterte reportedly stated in a pre-recorded address late Monday that he has begun preparations, telling the public that he "will prepare for my defense."
The commentary marks a 180-degree shift for the head of state, as he previously indicated that he would not cooperate with the tribunal.
"Just stick to the facts because there are records of it," Duterte remarked during the address. "I am not threatening you - just don't cheat me on the evidence."
Tensions over the court's probe prompted Duterte to pull the Philippines from the ICC's jurisdiction over the court and the United Nation's repeated criticisms for his methods on brutally cracking down on illicit drugs. The ICC withdrawal became effective in March 2019, some 12 months after Duterte initially voiced his intention to part ways with the tribunal.
© AP Photo / Aaron Favila(File) Policemen patrol around a slum area during a police operation as part of the continuing "War on Drugs" campaign of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in Manila, Philippines on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016
(File) Policemen patrol around a slum area during a police operation as part of the continuing "War on Drugs" campaign of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in Manila, Philippines on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016
© AP Photo / Aaron Favila
The ICC issued a statement in mid-September reiterating that it had "reasonable basis" to proceed with its investigation as laid out by its "crime against humanity of murder" article.
The ongoing case is specifically looking at alleged criminal behavior committed across the Philippines between July 1, 2016, and March 16, 2019, as well as the killings that took place in Davao from 2011 to 2016.
Human rights groups have accused authorities in the Philippines of participating in the systematic killings of some 30,000 people, including children, under the guise of Duterte's "War on Drugs."