By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos
INAUGURATION. President Rodrigo Duterte (4th from left) leads the unveiling of a marker of the Siargao Island Sports and Tourism Complex and the Catangnan-Cabitoonan Three-Point Bridge System in Surigao del Norte on Saturday (Nov. 6, 2021). Also in photo are Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar (left) and Senator Bong Go (3rd from left). (Screengrab)
MANILA (Philippines News Agency)– President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday defended his anti-narcotics drive, saying it was meant to protect the country from the scourge of illegal drugs.
Duterte, in a speech delivered in Dapa, Siargao during the inauguration of a sports complex and bridge system, said he is merely keeping his promise to halt the drug menace to protect Filipinos, especially the youth.
“I did it because I want to protect your children and their future. Hindi akin iyan. Kayong lahat ng taong Pilipino ang nakinabang diyan (It’s not for my benefit. It’s the Filipino people who benefitted from it),” Duterte said.
He added that his anti-drug campaign was not even giving him pleasure.
“But ito (this [drug war]), everything, I did it for my country. Hindi ako nakinabang diyan. Wala akong satisfaction diyan. Hindi ako nagkaroon ng pera ni sentimos diyan (I did not benefit from that. I do not have any satisfaction with that. I did not get a single centavo from that),” Duterte said.
Duterte also took a swipe anew at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for carrying out a full-blown investigation into allegations of crimes against humanity associated with his drug war.
Duterte said it was “stupid” for ICC to probe his anti-narcotics drive.
“Ginawa ko lang ang trabaho ko kasi ayoko ngang masira ang bayan ko (I just did my job because I do not want my country to be destroyed [because of illegal drugs]). That is the long and short of the story about the ICC. Kalokohan iyan (That’s stupid),” he said. “For as long as I am a worker of government, I will do everything to protect my country.”
Duterte reiterated that he would not allow the “white people” at the ICC to have jurisdiction over him.
He maintained that he would only face a Filipino judge in the country and be detained in a Philippine prison.
“May nagsabi na may kaso ako sa (They said I have a case before the) ICC. I will not allow myself to be judged by white people in another place, outside of my country,” Duterte said. “If I go to prison, I go to Muntinlupa. If I am tried, I should be tried by a Filipino judge in a Philippine tribunal and I should be prosecuted by a Filipino prosecutor.”
In October, ICC prosecutor Karim Khan promised that the investigation into Duterte’s drug war would “uncover the truth and aim to ensure accountability.”
Khan added that the ICC is “willing to constructively engage” with Philippine authorities, in accordance with the principle of complementarity and the court’s obligation under the Statute.
Malacañang, however, said it would be difficult for ICC to uncover the truth in Duterte’s anti-drug campaign sans the Philippine government’s cooperation.
Duterte in March 2018 ordered the Philippines’ revocation of the Rome Statute that created the ICC after former prosecutor Fatou Bensouda continued with the preliminary examination into his drug in February of the same year.
The Philippines formally severed ties with the ICC on March 17, 2019, or exactly a year after the scrapping of the Rome Statute.
Despite the Philippines’ withdrawal, Khan said his office “retains jurisdiction” with respect to alleged crimes that happened in the Philippines while it was a state party from Nov. 1, 2011 to March 16, 2019.
The ICC’s investigation will cover the conduct of the drug war under Duterte’s watch, as well as alleged killings in Davao City between 2011 and 2016 when the President was still the mayor. (PNA)