The International Criminal Court (ICC) has informed the Philippines it has begun a preliminary examination of a complaint against President Rodrigo Duterte that accuses him of crimes against humanity.
The Philippines is a signatory to the Rome Statute that set up the ICC under the UN, aimed at stopping impunity and other serious crimes like genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression. Obviously, this is intended to embarrass the President. The official police versions declared the teenagers were drug couriers who were killed because they had fought it out with arresting officers.
Duterte, however, said he would not make good on his earlier vow since it would appear he was trying to "avoid liability". He was convicted of war crimes relating to the use of children in that country's conflict and sentenced to 14 years in prison.
He further stressed that there is no sufficient basis for the ICC to claim jurisdiction over cases involving the Philippines' anti-drug campaign. It has to prove that they represent crimes against humanity, that they are happening as a matter of policy, and that there's "zero justice to date" for the victims. The so-called "preliminary examinations" are a first step toward possible full-blown investigations that could lead to indictments by the global court. Duterte's outspoken political nemesis, Trillanes steadfastly backed the witnesses against the president and helped them file their complaint.
The ICC has yet to comment on the latest report.
All of the vehicles that were made into scrap were reportedly worth a combined 61.6 million pesos (£859,320).
He has threatened to withdraw the Philippines from the court and claimed the lawyers involved were "rotten" and that human rights groups who have claimed he has refused to crackdown on police corruption are just biased against him. They reported that the ICC will be conducting a probe of the drug war.
Since the man nicknamed the Death Squad Mayor swept to power on a promise to eliminate all the country's suspected drug users and dealers, thousands of Filipinos have been killed - either shot dead in police raids with high death tolls and few witnesses, or assassinated by men on motorbikes, often after being named by police.
On November 28, 2016 Duterte bristles at ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda's stark warning that any person who incites "mass violence" in the Philippines was "potentially liable to prosecution" at the world court.
Sabio expressed elation and vindication by the ICC move, which he said was a "prelude to formal criminal investigation" against Duterte.
Duterte's vocal critics, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano, filed a supplemental communication against the President before the ICC in June 2017. Cristina Palagay, secretary general of Philippine human rights group Karapatan, added: 'Such independent investigations should be conducted in the light of the stubborn refusal of the Duterte administration to be subjected to scrutiny.
In its web site, the ICC said it is is participating in a global fight to end impunity, and aims to hold those responsible accountable for their crimes.
Duterte denied the allegations, but has acknowledged deaths of criminals during his term as mayor of the southern city.