Son of former Philippine dictator questions jurisdiction of The Hague court in investigating a close political ally, accusing the international court of "interference" on the country's sovereignty.

Ferdinand Marcos Jr (background) took over the presidency from his polictical ally, Duterte (foreground, centre), in June of 2022.
Ferdinand Marcos Jr (background) took over the presidency from his polictical ally, Duterte (foreground, centre), in June of 2022. (Reuters)

Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr has announced that he is cutting off Manila's contact with the International Criminal Court (ICC) after it rejected an appeal asking it to stop investigating his predecessor's war on drugs that left thousands dead.

Thousands of Filipinos, mainly low-level dealers and users, were killed by police during Rodrigo Duterte's fierce crackdown on illicit drugs, with many more gunned down in mysterious circumstances.

The ICC is investigating widespread allegations by human rights groups and victims of systematic executions and cover-ups by police, who say they killed suspects only in self-defence.

"That ends all our involvement with the ICC .... At this point, we essentially are disengaging from any contact, any communication," Marcos told reporters when asked about the appeal, which was rejected this week.

"We cannot cooperate with the ICC considering the very serious questions about their jurisdiction and about what we consider to be interference and practically attacks on the sovereignty of the republic."

The ICC is a court of last resort that can exercise jurisdiction if states are unable or unwilling to investigate crimes.

The Philippines has argued its own institutions are capable of prosecuting crimes.

As international criticism mounted, Duterte unilaterally withdrew the Philippines from the ICC's founding treaty in 2018. 

The treaty stipulates the ICC can investigate crimes that took place while a country was a member.

In September 2021, the ICC announced there was “reasonable basis” to proceed with its probe noting that “specific legal element of the crime against humanity of murder” has been met in the deadly crackdown.

The ICC investigation also covered cases of summary executions in the city of Davao during Duterte's time as mayor of the Philippines largest city.

The court in January granted its prosecutor's request to reopen an investigation into the killings, having suspended the probe in November 2021 at Manila's request after it said it was carrying out its own investigations.

Human rights advocates say over 30,000 people were killed during Duterte's time as president from 2016 to 2022. Police reported at least 6,000 deaths.

Duterte has repeatedly said he gave no instruction to kill, other than in self-defence.

He has said he is willing to go on trial over his drugs war, but only in a Philippine court.

His daughter, Sara Duterte, is currently vice president and was the running mate of Marcos in the May 2022 elections.

READ MORE: ICC prosecutor gets approval to reopen Philippines drug war probe

Source: TRTWorld and agencies