PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte vowed to continue his fight against illegal drugs and challenged the International Criminal Court to come to the Philippines to conduct its investigation, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.
“The war on drugs will continue despite the communication filed against him at the international tribunal,” Roque said.
In a related development:
• Solicitor General Jose Calida questioned the authority of the Commission on Human Rights to assist in the ICC’s initial review of drug war-related allegations against Duterte and several senior government officials.
“They [CHR] are bragging that they will do the investigation. Where did they get this authority? Is the CHR a different branch of government? As far as I know there are only three: Executive, legislative, and judiciary,” Calida told reporters at a press briefing.
He was reacting to CHR chairperson Chito Gascon’s statement the commission was “ready to assist in any way with the process of” the ICC’s preliminary examination if requested.
In a statement, CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said the Philippine government was “duty-bound to fully cooperate” with the ICC’s preliminary examination.
“The problem with CHR [is] it’s too politicized,” Calida said. “The chairman, Gascon, was a stalwart of the Liberal Party. And apparently they are using their powers to put down the president.”
“I will not advise the CHR. Let them do their worst and we will see,” he added.
In Malacañang, Roque said the President was firm in his stand to rid the country of illegal drugs, saying the war versus drugs would continue until Duterte’s last day in office.
In a speech during the oath taking of newly appointed officials, Duterte repeated he would face the ICC.
“If they want to indict me and convict me, fine. I will gladly do it for my country...I would love to experience what Rizal experienced, too,” he said.
“ I like to address myself to the International Court of Justice and to the prosecutors coming here to investigate. The war, or the drive against drugs, will not stop. And it will last until the day I step out,” the president insisted.
“If I go to prison, I go to prison. If you want to execute me, look for a country that allows prisoners to be executed by firing squad,” the President said.
Duterte also said that cocaine entered the country. “Mind you, there’s a new development. Cocaine has entered into the picture.”
“Cocaine is being cooked in the high seas, they put it plastic bins washed ashore with GPS,” he said.
“They are cooked in the trawlers along the international waters then they throw it (sic) over board, jettison it and there’s a GPS for the Filipino criminals to get it,” he added.
The President denied that only the poor were being killed in the drug war, explaining that majority of the drug pushers and addicts were poor.
“I did not say I will only kill the rich but not the poor. I do not have that luxury. What I’m saying, if it does really… It does really… I have to enforce the law or else I will compromise this country,” he said.
“I took my oath of office, in two sentences, I said, ‘I swear before God and country that I will protect my nation, that I will also have to protect the people.’ That’s about it.”
Meanwhile, Roque said the administration was confident the proceedings against Duterte and other officials would not prosper beyond the preliminary examination, noting how long it would take for information against several accused to progress in the ICC.