Ex-President Duterte says he’s willing to face consequences of his ‘war on drugs’

Former President Rodrigo Duterte with partner Honeylet Avancena at the opening of “Sunrises for the Soul” photo exhibit at the Atrium of SM Lanang Premier on 18 August 2022. MindaNews photo by CAROLYN O. ARGUILLAS

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 30 March) – Reacting to the decision of the International Criminal Court (ICC) junking the Philippine government’s appeal to suspend its investigation of killings linked to his administration’s “war on drugs,” former President Rodrigo R. Duterte said on Wednesday he was ready to “face the music.”

Speaking during the 32nd National Convention of the Prosecutors League of the Philippines at the SMX Convention Center Davao, Duterte maintained he only did what he ought to do as the chief executive to address the problem of illegal drugs in the country.

He said he does not care about the ICC probe which would look into the possible human rights violations committed during the bloody war on drugs enforced during his administration.

“Wala akong pakialam basta ginagawa ko ang dapat kung gawin (I don’t care. I only did what I had to do). If it turns out to be awful later, wala tayong magawa (there is nothing we can do). I will face the music, I will rot in prison, and I will die in prison,” he said.

He said he already made it clear early on in his incumbency that he would “stake my name, my honor and the presidency itself” to rid the country of criminality, particularly the problem of illegal drugs, as he claimed to have done in Davao City where he served as mayor for over two decades.

“It is a matter of principle for me. And I will die for it. If I am to rot in prison, so be it,” he said.

In a statement released on Wednesday, lawyer Kristina Conti, secretary general of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers-National Capital Region said it is all systems go for the ICC prosecutor’s investigation after the Appeals Chamber of the ICC dismissed the government’s request for suspension of its probe into Duterte’s war on drugs.

“So far, the ICC proceedings is on track and aligned with our search for genuine justice for the victims of grave rights violations,” Conti said.

She said the “Philippines’ Request for Suspensive Effect would have delayed the ICC investigation, which has already been approved by the Pre-trial Chamber first, in September 2021, and again, in January 2023.”

“With its arguments exposed to be farcical and repetitive, the Philippines has lost its bid to yet again delay and ultimately, rebuff an investigation into crimes against humanity committed from 2011-2019, in the context of Duterte’s ‘war on drugs.’ It also lost the argument that victims should not be allowed to comment on the matter, after it opposed the request of victims and the Office of the Public Counsel for Victims to participate,” she said.

She said the Appeals Chamber “has emphasized that the Philippines may continue its domestic investigations.”

She, however, said that the “domestic investigations are not transparent, comprehensive, and conducive enough to earn the victims trust.” (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)