Hague-based International Criminal Court in September authorised a probe of the campaign that has left thousands of people dead.

At least 6,181 people have died in more than 200,000 anti-drug operations conducted since July 2016, according to the latest official data released by the Philippines.
At least 6,181 people have died in more than 200,000 anti-drug operations conducted since July 2016, according to the latest official data released by the Philippines. (Reuters)

The International Criminal Court has suspended its investigation into suspected rights abuses committed under Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's "war on drugs" following a request from Manila.

"The prosecution has temporarily suspended its investigative activities while it assesses the scope and effect of the deferral request," ICC prosecutor Karim Khan wrote in a court notification on Friday.

He said the prosecution would request additional information from the Philippines.

Despite its request to the ICC, Manila said it maintained that the court had no jurisdiction.

"We reiterate that it is the position of the Philippine government that the International Criminal Court has no jurisdiction over it," Duterte's spokesman Karlo Nograles said in a statement on Saturday.

"In any event, we welcome the judiciousness of the new ICC prosecutor, who has deemed it fit to give the matter a fresh look and we trust that the matter will be resolved in favour of the exoneration of our government and the recognition of the vibrancy of our justice system," he said.

According to court documents, Philippine ambassador Eduardo Malaya requested a deferral.

In his letter requesting a deferral, ambassador Malaya said the Philippine government was investigating the alleged crimes against humanity committed during the drug war.

He said the Philippine government "has undertaken, and continues to undertake, thorough investigations of all reported deaths during anti-narcotic operations in the country".

The Hague-based court in September authorised a probe of the campaign that has left thousands of people dead, saying it resembled an illegitimate and systematic attack on civilians.

READ MORE: Why Duterte’s war on drugs is a war he cannot win

Drug problem

Duterte was elected in 2016 on a campaign promise to get rid of the Philippines' drug problem, openly ordering police to kill drug suspects if officers' lives were in danger.

At least 6,181 people have died in more than 200,000 anti-drug operations conducted since July 2016, according to the latest official data released by the Philippines.

ICC prosecutors in court papers estimate the figure to be between 12,000 and 30,000 dead.

Duterte pulled Manila out of the ICC in 2019 after it launched a preliminary probe, but the court says it has jurisdiction over crimes committed while the Philippines was still a member.

After long refusing to admit the court had any power to intervene and refusing to cooperate, Duterte backtracked in October to say he would prepare his defence.

READ MORE: Killings in Philippines war on drugs 'systematic and planned'

Source: TRTWorld and agencies