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Philippines Says Hague Tribunal Will Investigate Duterte Over Drug War

“I am elated and vindicated,” Mr. Sabio said. He said he was “confident we will hurdle this first big step, and hopefully a warrant of arrest will be issued by the I.C.C. against Duterte and his cohorts.”

Mr. Duterte, who has bragged about personally killing criminals as mayor of Davao, won the presidency promising to fill Manila Bay with the bodies of drug addicts. After taking office, he urged the police to kill drug suspects and promised to protect officers from prosecution. Thousands of Filipinos were killed by the police, in what the authorities said were shootouts, or by unidentified gunmen.

Last year, after an outcry over the killings of three teenagers by police officers, Mr. Duterte suspended the police operations and put the antidrug campaign in the hands of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency. But he put the police back in charge in December. Last week, the police said that 46 people suspected of using or selling drugs had been killed by the police since then.

That brought the police’s official death toll from the campaign to over 4,000, a number much lower than the estimated 12,000 deaths reported by various international and local rights groups.

Senator Antonio Trillanes, a prominent political foe of Mr. Duterte, said the news of a preliminary inquiry “should jolt Duterte into realizing that he is not above the law. More important, this is the first step for the victims’ families quest for justice.”

Mr. Roque played down the significance of the inquiry, saying that the tribunal prosecutor was “merely exercising his mandate to determine whether there is reasonable basis proceed.”

The tribunal can take cases only if a country’s own judicial system is unable or unwilling to pursue them, a condition that Mr. Roque said did not apply to the Philippines. “We view, of course, this decision of the prosecutor as a waste of the court’s time and resources,” he said.

Source: NYT > World

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