MANILA: Ex-presidential spokesperson Harry Roque claimed that former Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte told him about receiving information that he may be arrested at any time in light of the International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation of his administration’s drug war.
According to Roque, when Duterte told him about it, he was not able to sleep.
“You know what, I have a confession. I didn’t sleep. Because Father Digong called me and said, he got information that he might be arrested at any time,” Roque said in Filipino during his Facebook live on Sunday, Feb 4.
“My instinct was to run to Davao [City]. However, I also told myself: What can I do if I run there. But I couldn’t really sleep,” he added, without elaborating.
He then made remarks attacking supporters of the opposition, specifically of former Vice President Leni Robredo, whom they called pinklawan (a combination of Filipino words pink and yellow).
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said the Philippines did not recognize the ICC’s jurisdiction over the Philippines as his predecessor had initiated the country’s withdrawal from the Rome Statute, which created the global court.
Marcos said, however, that ICC investigators can come and visit the country “as ordinary people.”
Duterte declared the Philippines’ withdrawal from the international treaty in March 2018. The withdrawal took effect a year later.
The ICC nevertheless asserted its jurisdiction over the country, noting that its investigation covers alleged crimes against humanity committed from November 1, 2011, to March 16, 2019, while the Philippines was still a state party to the Rome Statute.
Duterte was the chief architect of the war on drugs which claimed at least 6,000 lives, according to official government data.
But human rights watchdogs and the ICC itself estimated the toll to be between 12,000 and 30,000 from 2016 to 2019 alone.
In the same Facebook live on Sunday, Roque mentioned that Duterte’s claim about his impending arrest was corroborated by rumors of Task Force Davao’s disbandment due to its perceived loyalty to Duterte.
“Now of course I sniffed around for what is happening in Davao. Well, it seems like there is truth in what he said because I gathered news that Task Force Davao would be disbanded,” Roque said.
“They know that this Task Force Davao is loyal to the Dutertes. So it seems that there was — well, that’s the buzz now — that Task Force Davao will be disbanded,” he added.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines, however, denied Roque’s pronouncements about Task Force Davao.
“[T]here is no such issuance of any directive for the disbandment of Task Force Davao,” according to AFP public affairs chief Col. Xerxes Trinidad.
Task Force Davao was established on April 16, 2003, after terror attacks on Davao International Airport and Sasa Wharf in Davao City that year.