Duterte to critics: I challenge you to debate my decision on ICC withdrawal

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(File photo)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 20) — President Rodrigo Duterte says he wants to debate with lawyers who insist that the International Criminal Court (ICC) can continue its preliminary examination on the country's drug war.

Speaking at the League of Municipalities’ General Assembly Tuesday night, the President stressed his position that the ICC has no jurisdiction over him because the Rome Statute which created the Court is not even a valid law in the Philippines.

He said, “I’d like to debate with you. Paunahin ko pa kayo ng isang oras [I'll let you go ahead by an hour]. We can continue with the investigation. Based on what? Why are you here? Why are you f*****g in my country? What is your power? What vests you, the treaty? The treaty was not published, when it is not published, it is as if there is no law at all.”

The President also criticized the qualifications of ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda who moved to begin a preliminary examination on him.

He took exception to the fact that Bensouda, who is now supposedly verifying facts in his drug war, is an expert on maritime issues.

Sino ba naman gago ngayon na papayag na itong maritime law...You know, just to learn the definition of crime and the numerous, kaya mga abogado tayo, it took us four years to...And the multiple application of the law. Tapos bigyan mo ako ng maritime expert..Itong si Fatou?” he said.

[Translation: What kind of fool would allow this maritime law...You know, just to learn the definition of crime and the numerous, that's why we lawyers, it took us four years to...And the multiple application of the law. And then you will give me a maritime expert...this Fatou?]

Duterte said he was withdrawing the country's membership in the ICC after it said it would begin preliminary investigations on the war on drugs.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the ICC was free to conduct the probe, but that it should not expect the Philippines to cooperate.

READ: Roque: PH won't cooperate in ICC probe on drug war