The International Criminal Court (ICC) has told the Philippines that it has begun a preliminary examination of a complaint accusing President Rodrigo Duterte of crimes against humanity, his spokesman said yesterday.
The complaint, which says Duterte is complicit in the illegal deaths of thousands of Filipinos during his war on drugs, was "a waste of the court's time and resources" and the examination would be the end of the process, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said.
About 4,000 mostly urban poor Filipinos have been killed by police in the past 19 months in a brutal crackdown that has alarmed the international community. Activists believe the death toll is far higher.
Roque said he had discussed the ICC issue for two hours the previous night with Duterte, a former prosecutor, adding that the president more than willing to face trial.
"He's sick and tried of being accused," said Roque, an international law expert.
"He wants to be in court and put the prosecutor on the stand."
The website of the ICC, which sits in the Hague in the Netherlands, carried no new information concerning the complaint against Duterte. The court's office could not immediately be reached for comment.
Since it was set up in 2002, the ICC has received more than 12,000 such complaints or communications, just nine of which have gone to trial.
Duterte has dared it to bring him to trial and said he would rot in jail to save Filipinos from crime and drugs.
His tirades against the court are notorious, and include calling it "bullshit", "hypocritical" and "useless", stemming from one of its prosecutors saying there could be grounds for an investigation into his bloody crackdown.