Duterte on facing another complaint in ICC: 'Go ahead'

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Davao City (CNN Philippines, May 16) — President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday said he's ready to face any complaint against him in any tribunal.

His statement comes after a critic in the House of Representatives who brought forth a failed impeachment complaint said he was considering filing his own communication against the Duterte in the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.

"Yeah, he can go ahead. He is free to do it," Duterte said in remarks upon arriving here from Beijing. "This is a democracy."

On Monday, the House Committee on Justice junked an impeachment complaint filed by Magdalo Party-List Rep. Gary Alejano against Duterte.

Read: House committee effectively dismisses impeachment complaint vs. Duterte

The panel found Alejano's complaint sufficient in form, but insufficient in substance.

Alejano filed the complaint in March 2017 based on claims of alleged extrajudicial killings, corruption, and other illegal acts supposedly committed by Duterte both as President and as then-Mayor of Davao City.

Read: Duterte faces impeachment complaint over alleged killings, corruption

When asked his next move following the failure of his impeachment case in the lower house's justice committee, Alejano said he was thinking of filing a document against Duterte at the ICC.

The document is known in the ICC as a "communication," which lays out for the ICC reasons why a state's official should be investigated.

"Pilit kong maniwala sa proseso ng Kongreso pero nakita natin ang nangyari," Alejano said. "With what happened right now, pinag-iisipan ko po, nakikipag-discuss sa grupo, na sasama na kaming magreklamo sa ICC," he added.

[Translation: I continued to believe in the process in Congress, but we saw what happened. With what happened right now, I am thinking about and discussing with other groups about joining in filing a communication at the ICC.]

A communication was filed before the ICC in the Hague on April 24 by Jude Sabio, lawyer of confessed hitman Edgar Matobato, charging Duterte with crimes against humanity for the death of 1,400 people in the hands the so-called Davao Death Squad (DDS) under then-Mayor Duterte.

Read: Lawyer asks international court to look into 'mass murder' in PH

Duterte has been investigated in the past by the Commission on Human Rights and the Justice Department during his term as mayor and the Senate held hearings on the alleged extrajudicial killings related to his 11-month-old war against illegal drugs.

But there has yet to be any evidence that he ordered or had a direct hand in them.

Read: Senate report: No 'DDS,' no Duterte hand in killings

"Look, I was investigated by the (Commission on) Human Rights when (Leila De Lima) was still the Chairman," Duterte said. "I was investigated again when she was the Justice Secretary, then I was investigated again by the Senate and I was investigated again by the House. Ano pa bang gusto nilang [What more do they want to do]," he added.

Duterte said although there have been casualties in the war on drugs, he is not sanctioning murder.

"Totoo 'yang may namatay," he said. "Ano ba namang gyera sa droga na walang namatay? Pero not in the character and kind that I was dished out 'yung mag-utos ng ganun pati bata. Kalokohan 'yon. Kilala man ninyo ako."

[Translation: It's true that there are deaths. What drug war doesn't have deaths? But it's not in the character and kind that I was dished out as the one who ordered killings, including children. That's crazy. You know who I am.]

According to statistics from the Philippine National Police (PNP), around 2,500 drug suspects were killed, over 53,000 arrested, and nearly 1.2 million surrendered in the government's anti-drug campaign from July 2016 until January 2017, when it was suspended following the kidnap and murder of Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo in the guise of an anti-drug operation.

Read: War on drugs suspended, takes back seat in war against rogue cops

The campaign was relaunched in March 2017, with police chief Ronald Dela Rosa saying that the campaign would be less bloody and would focus on rehabilitation for those who surrender.

Read: PNP relaunches 'less bloody' Oplan Tokhang

As of May 2017, the PNP noted 183 deaths in police operations, as well as 12,766 arrested, and 15,772 who surrendered since March.

However, international human rights group Amnesty International claimed in April 2017 that there have been 9,000 deaths since the drug campaign began in July 2016.

Read: Amnesty Int'l urges ASEAN leaders, PH gov't to act on 'bloodshed'

The Duterte administration has repeatedly denied that the killings are state sanctioned and launched a campaign to inform the public about the drug war.

Read: Gov't forum clarifies numbers in Duterte's war on drugs

CNN Philippines Senior Correspondent Ina Andolong contributed to this report.

(Story revised 3:30 p.m. of May 16 to include revised byline.)