On September 15, the International Criminal Court (ICC) authorized an investigation into crimes allegedly committed during the Philippines drug war, which a United Nations report estimated may have resulted in tens of thousands of deaths from 2016 through 2019.
The investigation will not only cover the war on drugs during the tenure of President Rodrigo Duterte, but also killings committed from 2011 to 2016 in the city of Davao, where Duterte served as mayor for parts of more than two decades.
On September 20, Philippines presidential spokesman Harry Roque disputed the idea that Duterte played a role in extrajudicial killings by the so-called “Davao Death Squad” (DDS).
“I investigated the Davao Death Squad. I concluded that while the Davao Death Squad does exist, there is no evidence linking the President to the Davao Death Squad,” Roque told the ABS-CBN News Channel, according to The Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper.
It is unclear which investigation Roque references. In 2015, Roque himself previously pinned killings on Duterte, who has appeared to admit and later deny Davos Death Squad ties. Likewise, former death squad members have claimed Duterte ordered killings.