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Duterte on ICC probe: If I have to kill those who'd want to harm, so be it

Former President Rodrigo Duterte stood pat his administration had to carry out the campaign against illegal drugs to fulfill his sworn duty to protect the Filipinos, according to Mark Salazar's report on "24 Oras."

Duterte issued the remark after the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced it is reopening its inquiry into the killings that happened purportedly as a result of the anti-drugs war.

“Since when was it a crime for a sovereign head of state for me to threaten criminals? Sabi ko if you destroy my country, I will kill you," he said in an interview on SMNI network Tuesday.

"You know you take an oath to protect the people. How can I protect you with just empty words? If I have to kill those who'd want to harm you, then so be it," he added.

The former leader said the international body cannot just conduct an investigation without the permission of the Philippine government.

"You cannot just intrude into a country and start an investigation because that is a function of the sovereign state. If you don't have permission from the state, from Congress, from the president, you don't have business to conduct investigation," he said.

Earlier, Presidential Legal Counsel Juan Ponce Enrile said that if it were up to him, he will cause the arrest of ICC probers "if they will come here," asserting the body has "no sovereign power" over the country.

Duterte said that the ICC was "wrong" to believe that all the killings in his drug war were perpetrated by the government.

“Hindi lang alam ng ICC, you think that all those killings were perpetrated by the government agencies, you are wrong. Better still you should be on the ground."

Duterte also said that he is ready to go into prison, adding that he did it as a “matter of principle.”

“You know ICC, you want me to go to prison? I will. I will, as a matter of fact, I did it as a matter of principle so that I will die for it and go to prison and rot there until kingdom come,” he said.

Based on the Philippine National Police (PNP) data, at least 6,000 individuals were killed under campaign against illegal drugs.

However, the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines said these killings reached 30,000.

The Marcos administration earlier said that the ICC should let the country conduct the investigation under its judiciary.

The Department of Justice (DOJ), citing the international law, said ICC can only interfere in the country’s justice system if it really does not have the capacity or the government does not want to investigate crimes against humanity within the country.

The DOJ said it is also investigating cases of murder related to the drug war from 2016 to 2019.

Duterte pulled out the Philippines from the Hague-based tribunal's Rome Statute in 2018, with the withdrawal taking effect in 2019, after the ICC began a preliminary probe into the allegations of state sanctioned killings in his war on drugs.

The Philippines earlier called on the ICC not to resume its investigation into Duterte's deadly drug war, insisting the tribunal has no jurisdiction.—Richa Noriega/LDF, GMA Integrated News