Marcos to Germany: ICC has no power to probe Duterte for drug deaths

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PHILIPPINE President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. on Wednesday told German Chancellor Olaf Scholz the International Criminal Court (ICC) has no authority to investigate his predecessor’s deadly war on drugs.

He also touted his government’s shift to rehabilitation in its anti-drug campaign, adding that erring cops have been punished.

“It is very difficult for the Philippines to accept that an outside court will, shall I say, dictate to our policemen who they will investigate, who they will arrest,” he told Mr. Scholz, based on a transcript from the presidential palace.

It did not say how Mr. Scholz, whose country had helped establish the ICC, responded to Mr. Marcos.

The government estimates 6,252 deaths in ex-President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s anti-illegal drug campaign, but domestic and international human rights groups say the death toll could be as high as 30,000, including 122 children.

The ICC probe covers alleged crimes committed in Davao City from November 2011 to June 2016 when he was still its mayor, as well as cases during his presidency up until March 16, 2019, the day before the Philippines withdrew from the ICC.

The University of the Philippines Third World Studies Center’s Dahas project had said there were 342 drug-related killings a year into Mr. Marcos’ term, including 115 deaths during police drug raids.

The European Union has condemned the Duterte government’s drug war, even threatening to end trade preferences given to the Philippines. Germany in 2019 voted in favor of a United Nations resolution to probe the deadly campaign.

Mr. Marcos told Mr. Scholz his government has reorganized the Philippine police force to get rid of cops involved “in some of the more nefarious practices.”

He said the state’s approach had “changed significantly,” a claim that international group Human Rights Watch debunked, citing continuing drug-related killings.

“He cannot claim progress because the impunity persists,” Human Rights Watch Asia Deputy Director Bryony Lau said in a statement.

He also belied Mr. Marcos’s claim that some law enforcers have been “tried and convicted,” noting that only two cases have resulted in the conviction of police officers out of the thousands of killings since 2016.

“Investigation by the government into these killings has not produced any significant results, while authorities continue to refuse to assist in the investigations of government agencies such as the Philippines Commission on Human Rights,” he added.

Mr. Lau said the deadly war on drugs remains a “state policy.”

“Marcos has not rescinded Duterte’s issuances for the drug war,” he said. “He has likewise never categorically and publicly ordered law enforcers to stop the violence.”

Mr. Marcos has been met with protests during some of his foreign visits, with domestic and foreign groups pressing their governments to hold the Philippine leader to account for human rights violations.

Greens Party Senator Janet Rice, who was present during Mr. Marcos’ speech at the Australian Parliament in Canberra last month, pulled out a placard that read: “Stop the human rights abuses.”

Her colleagues at the Australian Greens Party, including senators Jordon Steele-John, David Shoebridge and Barbara Pocock, boycotted Mr. Marcos’ engagement with the Parliament and held protests outside.

“He cannot claim progress because the impunity persists,” Mr. Lau said. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza