Updated 16:12 PM PHT Fri, October 14, 2016
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor expressed "deep concern" over the alleged extrajudicial killings in the Philippines' drug war.
"My Office is aware of worrying reported extrajudicial killings of alleged drug dealers and users in the Philippines, which may have led to over 3,000 deaths in the past three months," ICC's chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in a statement Friday.
Bensouda said her office "will be closely following developments in the Philippines in the weeks to come and record any instance of incitement or resort to violence."
She said this is to assess whether a "preliminary examination" needs to be opened.
Bensouda also raised the alarm over earlier pronouncements of government leaders which she said seemed to condone killings and encourage State forces and civilians to target individuals "with lethal force."
"Let me be clear: any person in the Philippines who incites or engages in acts of mass violence including by ordering, requesting, encouraging or contributing, in any other manner, to the commission of crimes within the jurisdiction of the ICC is potentially liable to prosecution before the Court," Bensouda said.
A total of 124 countries are state parties to the ICC — including the Philippines.
The ICC investigates and tries individuals involved in genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. It can step in if the concerned state fails to prosecute an international crime.
The ICC has indicted leaders, including Sudan president Omar Hassan Ahmad Al Bashir and Kenya president Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, for genocide and crimes against humanity.
All eyes on drug war
All eyes are on President Rodrigo Duterte's bloody war on drugs.
Official Philippine National Police data show at least 1,578 suspects were killed in anti-drug police operations from July 1 to October 14.
The killings have drawn global attention and condemnation from the world's most powerful leaders, such as United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and U.S. President Barack Obama.
Duterte willing to face probe
Asked about the ICC's warning, Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar on Friday said the drug-related killings and vigilante killings are "not State-sanctioned."
He echoed Justice Committee Chair Sen. Dick Gordon's conclusion after a series of hearings on the alleged extrajudicial killings: “There is no proof that the killings were state-sponsored.”
The Duterte administration has repeatedly denied condoning extrajudicial killings, which was investigated by the Senate.
"In any case, the President has articulated that he is willing to submit himself for an investigation before any body," Andanar said.
Chief prosecutor ng International Criminal Court, nababahala sa mga patayan sa Pilipinas. pic.twitter.com/pz4T99mvB6— CNN Philippines (@cnnphilippines) October 14, 2016