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Gloria Arroyo, other solons rally behind Duterte amid ICC drug war probe

A group of House members led by former President and Senior Deputy Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Thursday filed a resolution defending former President Rodrigo Duterte against any probe by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Through House Resolution No. 780, the lawmakers said Duterte's presidency "has ushered remarkable accomplishments brought about by his relentless campaign against illegal drugs, insurgency, separatism and terrorism, corruption in government and criminality thus making the life of every Filipino better, comfortable and peaceful."

They also said the Philippines' peace and order situation has improved due to the Duterte administration's holistic and whole nation approach in curbing insurgency and eradicating the country's drug menace which, according to them, resulted in unprecedented growth in exports and investment.

"Now, therefore, be it resolved as it is hereby resolved, that the House of Representatives declares unequivocal defense of Former President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, the 16th President of the Republic of the Philippines, in any investigation and/or prosecution by the ICC," the resolution read.

Duterte's drug war has been blamed for thousands of deaths, with government figures pegging it at around 6,000, but human rights groups say it could reach as high as 30,000.

Aside from Arroyo, those who also introduced the resolution were Representatives Carmelo Lazatin II, Aurelio Gonzales, Anna York Bondoc-Sagum, Jose Alvarez, Mary Mitzi Cajayon-Uy, Richard Gomez, Wilton Kho, Loreto Amante, Edward Hagedorn, Edwin Olivarez, Eric Martinez, Eduardo Rama Jr., Dale Corvera, Zaldy Villa, Ma. Rene Ann Lourdes Matibag, Mohamad Khalid Dimaporo, Johnny Pimentel, and Marlyn Primicias-Agabas.

In a text message, Senator Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa, who earlier tagged himself as the “number two accused," lauded the resolution and thanked Arroyo for the initiative. 

"That is very good! Thank you, Deputy Speaker Arroyo, for that resolution," said Dela Rosa, who oversaw Duterte's campaign against illegal drugs as Philippine National Police chief from July 2016 to April 2018. 

The ICC in January announced that it is reopening its investigation into the killings that happened purportedly as a result of Duterte's bloody war on drugs, saying it "is not satisfied that the Philippines is undertaking relevant investigations that would warrant a deferral of the court's investigations."

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla had described the ICC's move as unwelcome and an irritant, noting that he would not stand for any antics that would tend to question the Philippines' status as a sovereign country.

Still, the Philippines notified the ICC earlier this month that it would appeal the decision.

Duterte, meanwhile, defended his drug war, saying his administration had to carry it out to fulfill his sworn duty to protect Filipinos.

The Philippines withdrew from the Rome Statute, which established the ICC, in March 2019 during the Duterte administration. —with Hana Bordey/KBK/VBL, GMA Integrated News