Philippines: Ex-president Duterte 'laughs off' international probe into drug war killings under his term

More than 6,000 have been killed in the crackdown on drug crime, according to the government — but human rights groups say the death toll is higher


Kirstin Bernabe

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AP file photo
AP file photo

Published: Tue 18 Jul 2023, 4:32 PM

When the Philippines' former president Rodrigo Duterte learnt about the continuation of an international investigation into the drug war deaths under his term, he just "laughed it off", according to his former aide, Senator Ronald Dela Rosa.

Appeals judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) ruled on Tuesday that a probe into the Philippines' so-called “war on drugs” can resume, rejecting Manila’s objections to the case going ahead at the global court.

More than 6,000 suspects — most of them people who lived in poverty — have been killed in the crackdown on drug crime, according to government pronouncements. Human rights groups, however, said the death toll is considerably higher and should include many unsolved killings by motorcycle-riding gunmen who may have been deployed by police.

"When the ICC was mentioned, [Duterte] just laughed. He said the case won't go anywhere. 'You don’t need to unduly stress yourself,’" Dela Rosa said was quoted as saying in local media reports.

Dela Rosa served as police chief during the former president's term. He, along with Duterte, is among the first Filipino officials mentioned in the ICC report on the drug war deaths.

Former Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte has defended the crackdown as “lawfully directed against drug lords and pushers who have for many years destroyed the present generation, especially the youth.”


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