Duterte: ICC has no jurisdiction over me in drug war probe

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 7) — President Rodrigo Duterte said the International Criminal Court (ICC), which is looking into his controversial war on drugs, has no power over him.

"You cannot acquire jurisdiction over me, not in a million years," he said in a Tuesday speech in Malacañang. "Kaya hindi ko sinasagot [That's why I don't answer them]."

The President's statement came after the ICC announced on Feb. 8 that it will begin a preliminary examination to determine if an investigation is needed.

Read: Int'l Criminal Court to begin preliminary examination on PH killings

The preliminary examination is not an investigation, the ICC said, but a process to see if there is basis to proceed with an investigation.

The President's statement is also a complete turnaround from Feb. 10, when he said he welcomed the ICC probe and that he would speak to an ICC representative one-on-one.

Read: Duterte welcomes ICC probe: If you find me guilty, so be it

"Find me guilty, of course, you can do that," he said. "I do not want imprisonment. I said, 'I beg of you to find a country where they execute.'"

However, Duterte threatened to withdraw from the ICC due to the body's alleged lack of fairness.

"Karaming massacre diyan ngayon. In all parts of Asia... ako pa 'yung gusto ninyong tirahin [There are so many massacres now in all parts of Asia and you want to target me]," he said. "You better clear that up because I will withdraw from the ICC."

The Philippines is a state party to the ICC, the "court of last resort," which complements national courts.

It handles what it defines as "the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole," including crimes against humanity, but it can only investigate if the Philippines does not or "is unwilling or unable" to probe the crimes.

The Duterte administration has been subject to international scrutiny over the supposed high death toll in its brutal war on drugs.

While government data show that those killed in such operations have reached only 4,000, rights group claim the number has gone as high as 13,000.

The ICC is looking into the drug war after Jude Sabio filed a communication in April 2017.

Read: Lawyer asks international court to look into 'mass murder' in PH

Sabio is the lawyer of self-confessed hitman Edgar Matobato, who said he killed people in Davao City upon the orders of then-Mayor Duterte.

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano, two of Duterte's fiercest critics, likewise filed a supplemental complaint against Duterte at the ICC in June 2017.

Read: Trillanes, Alejano urge international court to look into Duterte's drug war