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Duterte to ICC: Why focus on me?

President Rodrigo Duterte wondered why the International Criminal Court (ICC) has set an initial review of allegations of extrajudicial killings in his war on drugs when there is violence sweeping Myanmar's northern Rakhine State.

“I was the first head of state who was indicted. There are Rohingyas who are being slaughtered but they only chose to indict me,” Duterte said during a private meeting in Cebu City on Tuesday, a transcript of which was provided by Malacañang to media on late Wednesday night.

More than 600,000 Rohingya have flooded into Bangladesh since late August, and now live in squalor in the world's biggest refugee camp.

The stream of desperate refugees who escape across the riverine border bring with them stories of rape, murder and the torching of villages by soldiers and Buddhist mobs.

The Burmese government insists military action in Rakhine is a proportionate response to violence by militants.

Duterte even advised Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi during his trip to India last January to ignore criticisms from human rights organizations on her silence on the humanitarian situation in Rakhine.

In his speech in Cebu, Duterte reiterated that the United Nations was useless saying it has not prevented any war.

The President also said he was ready to argue his case before the ICC.

“Okay, you asked for it, let’s have a trial. I will cross-examine you. When the trouble reaches them, they won’t be able to stand the cross-examination,” Duterte said.

The ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor said last week that it would begin its preliminary examination on the extrajudicial killings associated with the government’s intensified anti-illegal drugs campaign, whick kicked off on July 1, 2016.

Malacañang clarified that a preliminary examination does not equate to a formal preliminary investigation, but is merely a procedure conducted by the ICC to determine whether the case falls under its jurisdiction.

The Palace also said that the alleged deaths attributed to the administration’s campaign against illegal drugs were because of lawful police operations, thus these could not be regarded as attacks against civilians. —KG, GMA News