MANILA -- If the International Criminal Court (ICC) finds him guilty of crimes against humanity in the Philippines, President Rodrigo R. Duterte said he would rather die by firing squad than go to prison.

“If you convict me, find a country that promotes death penalty and kill me by a firing squad. I would be very happy to face them,” Duterte dared ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda during a Manila Times forum on Friday night.

Duterte said it would be a “distinct honor” for him to die like Philippine national hero Jose Rizal who was killed in defiance of the Spaniards.

“I’m no Rizal. I am not bright as Rizal. But I would like just to imitate the way Rizal died,” he added, adding that he would even curse them before they pull the trigger.

Duterte said as President, he vowed to “preserve the Republic of the Philippines and protect the Filipino people” and if ordering the killing of criminals was wrong, he was ready to face death.

He made this remark after Bensoud, on Thursday, said she was opening a preliminary examination into alleged extrajudicial killings in the country acting on the “communication” filed by lawyer Jude Sabio in April 2017.

Sabio is the lawyer of confessed hitman Edgar Matobato, who claimed the existence of a so-called Davao Death Squad (DDS) which killed suspected drug addicts, pushers, and other criminals during Duterte’s term as mayor.

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano also filed a separate complaint against Duterte's drug war before the ICC.

‘It’s all politics’

Duterte, meanwhile, questioned Bensoud’s decision to examine the Philippines first "when there were killings all over the world happening everyday".

“I cannot see the reason why I’m the first head of state to be chosen by these idiots when there are so many things (happening),” Duterte said.

He, however, said that he was told beforehand that the examination will soon take place.

“I knew in advance that they were doing it. Problem is this case, from the looks of it, it’s all politics,” the President said.

“I have this transmittal. I cannot reveal it but I can tell you now. Three days after, they were discussing. I had already, I was already listening to the tapes of their conversation. It was provided by me by another country but the conversation was in Philippines and New York,” he added.

Duterte also insisted that the ICC treaty provisions in the Rome Statute that dealt with extrajudicial killings could not be implemented in the Philippines because they were not published in the country as required by law.

He said because of this, he could not be imprisoned.

“When you say, the treaty shall form part of the laws of the land. In this city, in this country, alam ninyo ‘yan, every penal or punitive measure must be published in the Official Gazette. Tinanong ko ang Official Gazette, ‘Pinublish ba ninyo? Kasi makukulong ako eh.’ That is required -- without that, you denied me my due process (“When you say, the treaty shall form part of the laws of the land. In this city, in this country, you know, every penal or punitive measure must be published in the Official Gazette. I asked the Official Gazette, ‘Did you publish it? Because I’ll be imprisoned.’ That is required--without that, you denied me my due process),” Duterte said.

“Paano mo ako makukulong ngayon (How will I be imprisoned now)? Because certainly, a treaty cannot be more powerful than a Constitution, it’s just an agreement,” he added. (PNA)