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Philippines Plans to Withdraw From International Criminal Court

Philippines Plans to Withdraw From International Criminal Court

His angry words were a sharp departure from February, when he said he welcomed the court’s inquiry as a chance to prove his innocence. “If they want to indict me and convict me, fine,” he said at the time. “I will gladly do it for my country.”

There was no immediate reaction from the court in The Hague.

The court said in February that its initial inquiry would seek to determine whether there was a basis to proceed with a full-fledged investigation. Jude Sabio, a Filipino lawyer, filed a 77-page complaint with the court last April accusing the president and 11 other officials of mass murder and crimes against humanity.

The complaint accused Mr. Duterte of masterminding a campaign of extrajudicial killings dating from the 1980s, when he became the mayor of the southern city of Davao, and escalated after he became president.


Jude Sabio, a lawyer, filed a complaint to the International Criminal Court accusing Mr. Duterte and other officials of mass murder and crimes against humanity.

Noel Celis/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“It is clear that Mr. Duterte is nervous about the case and is exploiting technicalities to avoid an imminent probe,” Mr. Sabio said on Wednesday. “Duterte is just digging his own grave at the I.C.C.”

Senator Antonio Trillanes, Mr. Duterte’s staunchest political opponent, dismissed the move as a stunt. “He cannot scare the I.C.C. like what he does to our courts,” Mr. Trillanes said.

Various international and local rights groups have placed the death toll from the drug crackdown around 12,000, including killings by unidentified gunmen as well as police officers. Mr. Duterte and the police say that figure is grossly exaggerated.

Mr. Duterte, who has boasted of personally killing criminals, campaigned for president promising to eliminate drug traffickers and dump their bodies into Manila Bay. After taking office, he promised to protect the police from prosecution for killing drug suspects.

The crackdown was initially popular, but the deaths of three teenagers at the hands of police officers led to public anger and street protests. One of the teenagers was seen on closed-circuit television footage being led away by officers before his death, though the police had said there was a shootout.

Those killings forced Mr. Duterte to temporarily put the antidrug campaign in the hands of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency. But in December, he put the police back in charge, saying the drug problem could not be handled by the agency alone. Since then, the police have carried out almost nightly raids, and the number of deaths has continued to rise.

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