A Redemptorist priest who documented the spate of drug related killings in the Philippines welcomed the decision of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to open a probe into the “drug war” killings under President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration.
Father 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,” Father 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.
Father Picardal said the 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 Father Picardal, who is now based in Rome.
The Duterte administration, however, maintained it will not cooperate with the ICC probe because the country already withdrew from the Rome Statute in 2019.