Following the campaign against illegal drugs, The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague has informed the Philippine government that it will start a preliminary investigation into allegations of extrajudicial killings.
According to ICC “Our mission in The Hague was to informed that the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court is opening to preliminary examination on the alleged acts associated with the campaign against illegal drugs,”
Harry Roque spokesman for the Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte, disclosed that the president welcomed the preliminary examination of the allegations ‘’because he is sick and tired of being accused,”
Roque said Duterte was willing to face the court should the case go ahead adding that “If need be, he will argue his case personally and face the ICC.
Meanwhile, a Filipino lawyer had filed a case accusing Duterte and 11 other senior officials of mass murder in April 2017 over the killings of criminal and drug suspects which took place in the Philippines since he became president June 30, 2016.
The lawyer represented a self-confessed hitman for Duterte while he was still the mayor of the southern city of Davao.
Official data revealed that at least 3,987 people were killed in police operations against drug suspects between July 2016 and January 17, 2018.
Duterte administration, however, denied condoning extrajudicial killings under the campaign against illegal drugs. Officials say that those killed had fought back and violently resisted arrest.
Duterte has vowed in the past that the killings would only end if people stopped using and trading illegal drugs.
He said there are as many as 4 million drug addicts in the Philippines, where crystal methamphetamine, locally known as shabu, which allegedly comes mostly from China, is the most widely used narcotic
Meanwhile, an official report says estimates by local human rights and church groups place the death toll at up to 13,000 people, including those suspected to have been murdered by hired or vigilante killers.
Duterte’s critics hailed the ICC’s decision as the first step in exacting accountability from the government and finding justice for the victims of the drug war.