ICC prosecutor seeks PH gov't cooperation on crimes examination

Roque said that the Philippine mission in The Hague has received information that the ICC Office of the Prosecutor is opening a preliminary examination on the alleged crimes against humanity in the war against drugs that the President have committed since assuming office in 2016.

"The President has said that if need be, he will argue his case personally before the International Criminal Court", Roque said as quoted by the state-run Philippine News Agency.

Mr. Roque played down the significance of the inquiry, saying that the tribunal prosecutor was "merely exercising his mandate to determine whether there is reasonable basis proceed".

He also claimed that the acts attributed to Duterte's anti-drug campaign could not be regarded as crimes against humanity.

In Venezuela, Bensouda said her office would probe crimes allegedly committed during demonstrations and political unrest since April 2017 against the government of President Nicolas Maduro.

"This is an opportunity for him to prove that this is not subject to the court's jurisdiction because of both complementarity that domestic courts; and the fact that we have a domestic international humanitarian law statute in our jurisdiction are reasons enough for the court not to exercise jurisdiction", he said.

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The President, however, has maintained his stance that the campaign against narcotics will be relentless until he is able to curb the narcotics trade.

"Obviously, this is intended to embarrass the president. They will fail", he added.

"He (Duterte) also welcomes the preliminary examination because he's sick and tired of being accused of committing crimes against humanity", he said.

His tirades against the court are notorious, and include calling it "bullshit", "hypocritical" and "useless". Since 2003, the Office has been conducting investigations in multiple situations within the ICC's jurisdiction, namely in Uganda; the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Darfur, Sudan; the Central African Republic (two distinct situations); Kenya; Libya; Côte d'Ivoire; Mali; Georgia and Burundi. But the president is a lawyer, he knows what the procedures are.

Of those 11 opened investigations, 10 are centered in Africa, for which critics have blamed the court of systematically targeting suspects in African countries as "war criminals", while ignoring European crimes. Official statistics put the number of dead at around 4000.

Amnesty has also called for an immediate end to extrajudicial executions, plus an end to the incitement and encouragement of such killings by high-ranking officials, including the president.

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It was not clear how long the preliminary examinations would take.

The prosecutor will determine if the ICC has jurisdiction over the drug war. "Trillanes and Cong. Alejano, we will hurdle this first big step, and hopefully a warrant of arrest will be issued by the ICC against Duterte and his cohorts", Sabio said.

Trillanes in a statement said the decision of the ICC was a welcome development for the families of the victims of the bloody "war on drugs".

Earlier, HRW criticised the Duterte administration for failing to make "genuine efforts to seek accountability for drug war abuses".

'Big step' Sabio, the lawyer behind the suit, said he was "elated" and "vindicated" by the prosecutor's action, adding the court usually threw out many other complaints brought before it.

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