President Rodrigo Duterte belittled International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s plan to probe the administration’s war on drugs, saying her report was built on media sources and “mere hearsay,” Malacañang said on Thursday.

In a Palace briefing, Duterte’s spokesman Harry Roque said the president merely shrugged off the report after knowing it was based on media sources, which he said would not stand in court.

“Immediately (Duterte’s) reaction was, ‘bakit ganito ito, bakit puro Rappler, ABS-CBN ang sina-cite ng prosecutor?’ Kaya nga po after we saw the 52-page decision…medyo napayapa na kami because in law, all these newspaper accounts are mere hearsay,” Roque said.

“All lawyers know, that will not stand in court. And since you need the judicial authorization to proceed an investigation, lawyers know that you cannot start any proceedings on the basis of hearsay evidence. So, we are confident.”

Bensouda has sought authorization from The Hague tribunal to open an investigation into Duterte’s war on drugs, as there was “reasonable basis” to believe that a crime against humanity had been committed in the Philippines between July 1, 2016 and March 16, 2019 in the context of the anti-drug campaign.

Roque earlier said that the administration would not cooperate with the probe as the ICC did not have jurisdiction over the subject matter.

The Philippines pulled out from the Rome Statute, which established the ICC, in March 2019.
Roque said the administration would let the Department of Justice (DOJ) probe the deaths caused by Duterte’s war on drugs.

“So, it’s no big deal, and we will allow and let the DOJ do its job because that is really the obligation of the Philippine state to investigate, prosecute and punish if need be,” he said.

Data from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency’s monitoring platform #RealNumbersPH showed that 6,011 persons were killed in anti-drug operations from July 2016 to December 2020. John Ezekiel J. Hirro