Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.“You must be stupid,” Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said, if you think he’ll stand trial in international court over his violent crackdown on drugs.The strongman, in an interview with a Philippine celebrity pastor, insisted that if he were called to account for any alleged crimes, he would only face trial in his home country, according to Reuters. Duterte’s drug war — which he’s vowed to continue until the end of his term in 2022 — has officially led to at least 5,000 deaths. Unofficially, human rights experts put the number at over 27,000, as of December of 2018.
“I will only face, be tried or face a trial, in a Philippine court, presided by a Filipino judge, prosecuted by a Filipino,” Duterte said during the interview on Tuesday. “I will not answer to a Caucasian, asking questions, white man there.”“I am a Filipino. We have our courts here… Shit,” he continued.The official death toll is hard to calculate because the Philippine government doesn’t track any of the extrajudicial killings in the course of the drug war. Unidentified gunmen, who aren’t cops, are believed to be working closely with the police to carry out the drug war, according to Human Rights Watch.Duterte, who had previously vowed to “rot in jail” if necessary to continue his war on drugs, pulled the Philippines out of the International Criminal Court just weeks after it began a preliminary examination into his drug war.No matter how severe the accusations against him, Durterte’s government has said he can’t be brought to trial at The Hague in the Netherlands, where the international court is based. Officials have insisted on that — even as the relatives of people murdered in Duterte’s drug war accused him of murder at The Hague in August of last year.Those accusations — and any other in the international courts — are unlikely to have any practical effect, other than uniting the international community against Duterte. Without his country’s recognition of the court, it’s unlikely that he’ll stand trial, according to the New York Times.
But the international community is rallying against Duterte. The Human Rights Council of the United Nations passed a resolution last week to investigate the extrajudicial police killings in Duterte’s drug war. That vote came just days after a 3-year-old was killed in a police raid.In response to that death, the former police general who’d overseen the drug war said, “shit happens.”Duterte, for his part has shown no interest in ramping down his drug war at all: “Whether they like it or not, I will continue what I started to the very end,” he said in the interview.The Philippine president has also faced calls for impeachment over his refusal to take action after China sank a Philippine fishing boat in Filipino waters. His response: “”Me? Will be impeached? I will jail them all.”
Cover image: Philippines' President Rodrigo Duterte meets Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to hold a meeting at the prime minister's office in Tokyo on May 31, 2019. ( The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP Images )