President Rodrigo Roa Duterte flashes his signature pose with (from left) Quezon Governor Danilo Suarez, Senator Christopher Lawrence Go, Public Works and Highways Acting Secretary Roger Mercado, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, and Quezon District 2 Representative David Suarez after unveiling the project marker to signify the inauguration of the 7.42-kilometers Sariaya Bypass Road in Barangay Isabang, Lucena City, Quezon on October 21, 2021.(MNS photo)

MANILA, Oct 22 (Mabuhay) —

President Rodrigo Duterte said Thursday that the International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation on the drug war killings is making Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa nervous.

Duterte said he assured Dela Rosa, Philippine National Police chief when the drug campaign was launched, he would go to prison himself if needed, over the alleged deaths.

“Si Bato, nanerbiyos sa Tokhang niya. Sabi ko wag ka mag alala, if there is someone going to prison, it should be me. Pero it should be before a Filipino court, Filipino judge with a Filipino prosecutor (Bato is nervous over such ICC probe since he oversaw Oplan Tokhang. I told him not to worry because if someone is going to prison, it should be me but before a domestic court),” Duterte said during a Joint Task Force-Regional Task Force End Local Communist Armed Conflict meeting in Lucena City.

“Magpakulong ako rito, marami namang penal colony rito, doon na lang ako. Kaya sabi ko kay Bato, wag ka mag ano, ituro mo ako. Si Duterte ang nag-utos. Kung ano nasa listahan mo, sabihin mo, utos ni Duterte ‘yan. (I will be willing to be jailed in a penal colony here. I told Bato, do not worry. Tell them it is me who gave the order. Whatever it is in your list, tell them, I told you to do it). I will answer for all,” Duterte added.

Various groups have raised before the ICC the killings which allegedly were results of the administration’s policy against illegal drugs.

In September, the international court said it found reasonable ground to investigate the Duterte administration for alleged crimes against humanity.

Duterte said the rights groups that called for an ICC probe only looked at the deaths, but not at the 500 individuals arrested on a daily basis due to drug-related crimes.

“They don’t look at the other side,” he said.

Likewise, the President dismissed criticisms that the government’s anti-drug war only goes after small-time peddlers, saying the rich are not into illegal drugs.

“Walang mayaman na Pilipino na nasa droga. Anong big fish? May apat na Chinese na namatay, iyon ang mga big fish (No rich Filipinos are into drugs. You want big fish? Four Chinese were killed. Those are the big fish kind),”  Duterte stressed.

“Huwag kayo maghanap ng mayaman o anak ng mayaman. Hindi kailangan magnegosyo ng shabu niyan. Mayaman na nga eh (Don’t look for rich or the scions of the rich here. They don’t need to get into shabu business because they are already rich),” he added.

Ahead of Duterte’s speech, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the Justice department’s referral of 52 drug war killings during police operations to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for case build up proves the Duterte administration is not treating erring police officers with kid gloves.

President Duterte earlier said that he will prepare his defense on possible ICC indictment after he steps down from office on June 30, 2022.(MNS)

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