MANILA (Reuters) – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday hit out at what he called “bullshit” Western threats to seek his indictment by the International Criminal Court (ICC) over his role in a bloody crackdown on drugs.
Police figures show Duterte’s campaign has killed more than 2,500 people since he took office on June 30, about three-quarters in police counter-narcotics operations, and the rest believed to be the victims of vigilantes or druglords eliminating rivals or silencing those who could implicate them.
An ICC prosecutor last month said the Hague-based tribunal might have jurisdiction to prosecute the perpetrators of Philippines killings.
“You scare me that you will jail me? International Criminal Court? Bullshit,” Duterte said during a speech.
He scolded the United States for what he called hypocritical threats to try him in the ICC, to which Washington itself is not a signatory. He did not specify when the U.S. threat was made.
U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a news briefing on Monday that he was not aware of any such threat.
The United States chose not to sign the Rome Statute to protect former President George W. Bush, Duterte said, without elaborating.
“America itself is threatening to jail me in the International Criminal Court,” Duterte said. “It is not a signatory of that body. Why? Because at that time, they were afraid Bush would face it.”
For months, Duterte has been ridiculing concerns that extrajudicial killings could be taking place in his drugs war, and the United States, European Union and United Nations have been the preferred targets of his comments.
The brash former mayor and prosecutor said lawyers in Europe were “rotten,” “stupid,” and had a “brain like a pea.”
This month, Duterte said he might follow Russia’s move to withdraw from the ICC, describing it as “useless.”
He believes the West has failed to comprehend the gravity of the Philippines’ methamphetamine problem and has said he was ready to “rot in jail” to achieve his goals.
There is nothing wrong with threatening to kill bad elements, he said on Monday.
“I will never allow my country to be thrown to the dogs,” Duterte said. “I said, when I was a mayor, ‘If you destroy my city with drugs I will kill you.’
“Simple as that. … When was it a crime to say, ‘I will kill you’ in protecting my country?”
(Additional reporting by David Alexander in Washington; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Richard Chang)