Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has said he will never stand trial before an international court for mass killings during his war on drugs and vowed to continue his crackdown, which he claimed he was winning and would continue “to the very end”, Reuters has reported.
He said in a television interview on Tuesday July 16th that the Philippine justice system was working well so it would be "stupid" to imagine that he would allow an international tribunal to prosecute him.
"I will only face, be tried or face a trial, in a Philippine court. Presided by a Filipino judge. Prosecuted by a Filipino ... I will not answer a Caucasian, asking questions, white man there. You must be stupid," he said.
"I am a Filipino. We have our courts here... You have to bring me somewhere else? I would not like that. I have my country. It's working. I know it's working. Justice is working here."
But his opponents say the police have a carte blanche to kill and there is no chance Duterte will be held accountable or tried within the country in light of his popularity rating of about 80%, his absolute majority in Congress and his own appointments to courts and commissions.
The 74-year-old has previously said he was committed to his drug crackdown to the point where he was ready to face trial for crimes against humanity before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague or to rot in a prison there.
But within weeks of the February 2018 announcement by the ICC that it would conduct a preliminary examination of the killings, the police were ordered not to cooperate and the Philippines withdrew from membership of the ICC. But the ICC examination continues despite the withdrawal.
Duterte’s latest challenge comes days after the United Nations Human Rights Council approved a decision to launch an inquiry into the mass killings in response to a call by 11 United Nations experts who expressed concern about the "staggering” number of deaths.
The Philippine government rejected the decision, saying it was an intervention by biased Western countries and denied activists' claims that police were executing thousands of drug abusers and dealers.