A looming investigation into the drug war by the  International Criminal Court (ICC) might “solidify” Sara Duterte’s candidacy in the 2022 presidential election, a human rights campaigner said.

Carlos Conde, senior researcher for Human Rights Watch Asia division, said the recommendation of ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to probe the bloody drug war would weigh heavily on the race to succeed President Rodrigo Duterte.

May epekto syempre itong nangyayari ngayon sa magiging takbo ng election. Unang-una lalong iigting, o lalong maso-solidify ‘yung pagtakbo ni Sara Duterte. Kasi as I keep saying, siya lang ang makakaprotekta sa tatay niya when he’s out of power,” said Conde during PressOne.PH’s the Press Room podcast.



He said the Duterte camp was expected to do everything to make the president’s daughter win.

“Pinag-isipan nila ‘to. Suspetya ko nga the very reason Harry Roque is there is because of his expertise in international law—to prepare for this very moment,” he said, referring to the Palace spokesman, a former human rights lawyer.

According to Bensouda, 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 President Duterte’s deadly campaign against drugs.

“Following a thorough preliminary examination process, the available information indicates that members of the Philippine National Police, and others acting in concert with them, have unlawfully killed between several thousand and tens of thousands of civilians during that time,” Bensouda said in a statement.

The ICC prosecutor issued the statement on Monday, June 14, a day before leaving the tribunal. Bensouda started scrutinizing extrajudicial killings in the Philippines in February 2018.

Data from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency’s monitoring platform #RealNumbersPH found 6,011 persons killed in anti-drug operations from July 2016 to December 2020. Kelsey Telo