Duterte tells ICC drug war will continue

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (file) is defying a probe into his anti-drug policy.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (file) is defying a probe into his anti-drug policy.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte says he will not stop his war against illegal drugs despite an investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on extrajudicial killings related to the campaign.

In a speech late on Monday, the 72-year-old president said he was also prepared to go to prison or be executed if found guilty of crimes against humanity as alleged in a complaint filed against him at the ICC.

"I'd like to address myself to the International (Criminal) Court and to the prosecutors coming there to investigate: The war or the drive against drugs will not stop and it will last until the day I step out," he said.

"If I go to prison, I go to prison," he added. "If you want to execute me, look for a country that allows prisoners to be executed by firing squad, that would make me happy."

The ICC announced last Thursday that it was opening a preliminary examination into allegations of extrajudicial killings under Duterte's campaign against illegal drugs, which has left thousands dead.

A Filipino lawyer had filed a complaint accusing Duterte and 11 other senior officials of mass murder in April 2017 over the killings of criminal and drug suspects which have taken place in the Philippines since he became president on June 30, 2016.

At least 3987 people were killed in police operations against drug suspects between July 2016 and January 17, 2018, according to official data.

But the New York-based Human Rights Watch has noted that 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.

Australian Associated Press