Priest who documented DDS killings hails ICC probe into Duterte’s drug war

September 20, 2021 - 2:46 PM
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Victim of 'War on Drugs'
The Philippines has suffered cases of extrajudicial killings due to President Rodrigo Duterte's bloody anti-narcotics campaign. (Human Rights Watch/Carlo Gabuco)

A Redemptorist priest has welcomed the decision of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to open a probe into the drug war killings under President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration.

READ: International Criminal Court backs probe into Philippines’ ‘war on drugs’

Fr. Amado Picardal, who helped document the killings in Davao City when Duterte was mayor, said he is hopeful that justice will be served “no matter how long it takes”.

“Our efforts to hold those responsible for this mass murder accountable have not been in vain,” Picardal said.

The ICC on Wednesday formally authorized an official investigation into Duterte’s bloody war on drugs, in which thousands of suspected drug peddlers have died.

The Hague-based tribunal will also examine the killings in the city of Davao between 2011 and 2016, when Duterte was its local chief executive.

Picardal said ICC decision is a “welcome news especially for the families of victims of extrajudicial killings in Davao and the rest of the country”.

In April 2016, the priest wrote a detailed report on Davao Death Squad (DDS) killings from 1998 to 2015, which he said became part of the information submitted to the ICC.

“This nearly cost my life as I became a target of assassination and forced me to leave my hermitage and go into exile,” said Picardal, who is now based in Rome.

The Duterte government, however, maintained it will not cooperate with the ICC probe since the country already withdrew from the Rome Statute in 2019.

READ: Philippines will not cooperate with ICC probe of ‘war on drugs’ – legal spokesperson