A Philippines-based lawyer has filed a complaint of mass murder and crimes against humanity against President Rodrigo Duterte and 11 other Filipino officials at the International Criminal Court. Jude Sabio’s 77-page complaint to The Hague court accuses the president of “repeatedly, unchangingly and continuously” committing extra-judicial executions over the past 30 years, The Guardian reported on Tuesday.
“The situation in the Philippines reveals a terrifying, gruesome and disastrous continuing commission of extrajudicial executions or mass murder,” the complaint has said. The ICC prosecutor’s office said they will analyse it “as appropriate” and come to a decision.
In his complaint, Sabio has alleged that Duterte’s killing of 9,400 people began in 1988 when he was mayor of Davao city, and has continued into his 10 months of presidency. Since he assumed office as president, Duterte has waged a violent and bloody “war on drugs”, the lawyer claimed in his complaint.
Sabio based his filing on Duterte’s own admissions of murder, reports in the media and by human rights groups, and the statement of one of his clients Edgar Matobato. Matobato had testified in the Philippines Senate to being part of a team of assassins – the Davao Death Squad – that had functioned on Duterte’s orders, AFP reported.
The Filipino president’s spokesperson Ernesto Abella called the complaint to the ICC a “cynical effort” to undermine Duterte’s authority and to “embarrass and shame” him and the government of the Philippines.
More than 7,000 people have been killed since Duterte launched the national campaign to rid the country of drugs after assuming office in June 2016. On December 12, the president is believed to have told businessmen that he murdered suspects to “show the guys [the police] that if I can do it, why can’t you?”. Earlier in 2015, he had said that he had killed at least three men suspected of kidnapping and rape in Davao.
On December 23, it was reported that the Philippines Commission on Human Rights would investigate claims that the president had killed criminals while serving as the mayor of Davao. United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein had also said that Duterte should be investigated into these alleged murders and those during his drug war.