DAVAO, Philippines, Feb 10, (Agencies): Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday declared himself beyond the jurisdiction of an International Criminal Court probe into thousands of deaths in his “drugs war”, claiming local laws do not specifically ban extrajudicial killings.
In a typically bombastic speech Friday, a day after the ICC announced a preliminary inquiry into alleged crimes against humanity, Duterte renewed threats to withdraw from the world’s sole war crimes tribunal. Duterte, who has overseen the bloody anti-drug crackdown since taking power in 2016, acknowledged that a previous Manila government ratified the treaty that established the ICC, but claimed it had not passed into local law because of a technicality.
“There is no provision of extrajudicial killing. It is not defined anywhere so how can you now accuse me of a crime,” said Duterte, speaking in his home city of Davao.
Meanwhile, the Philippine president on Friday ordered the cancellation of a multimillion-dollar deal to buy 16 helicopters from Canada and said purchases of U.S. arms should also be stopped because of too many imposed conditions, although he said he still supports President Donald Trump.
President Rodrigo Duterte’s order, issued in a news conference, came after the Canadian government decided to review the 12 billion peso ($235 million) helicopter deal due to concerns the Philippine military might use the utility helicopters in counterinsurgency assaults.
Philippine defense officials gave assurances Thursday that the Bell 412EPI helicopters would be used to ferry supplies and troops, including those wounded in combat, and to respond to disasters, and would not be employed to attack insurgents.
In related news, the Philippine president says he has no intention of going into war over territorial feuds but will order the navy to fire if other countries extract resources from waters within his country’s exclusive economic zone.
President Rodrigo Duterte told a news conference late Friday that the Philippines could not fight more powerful nations like the United States and China but warned that “if you get something there from the economic zone, I will order the navy to fire.” Duterte was referring to the country’s 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone, a stretch of sea where coastal states have been granted exclusive rights to exploit natural resources under a 1982 UN treaty.