Witness links Duterte to Davao Death Squad

Posted on June 03, 2015

A WITNESS placed under government custody has linked Davao City Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte to extrajudicial killings committed by the vigilante Davao Death Squad (DDS), Justice Secretary Leila M. de Lima disclosed Tuesday.

Asked by reporters at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport if the witness had personal knowledge of Mr. Duterte’s involvement, Ms. de Lima replied “yes.”

“Our witness has named those who perpetrated [the killings] allegedly on orders of Mayor Duterte,” she said. “We have names and there are also names of the victims, and this [witness] even claims to be responsible for the death of the number as part of the DDS and purportedly on orders of Mayor Duterte.”

However, Ms. de Lima said she would have to wait for the National Bureau of Investigation’s progress report on the case before knowing what Mr. Duterte could be charged with.

“I ordered his stories validated to see if we can have corroborative evidence on each and every incident narrated in the sworn statement, so we can build a strong case when we file it,” said Ms. de Lima, a former Human Rights commissioner.

The self-confessed hitman, whose testimony serves as basis for the NBI’s case buildup on the DDS, was placed under the Witness Protection Program.

Investigation on the DDS was almost concurrent with the probe on the Tagum City Death Squad, which operated in the capital city of neighboring Davao del Norte province.

The NBI had filed multiple murder complaints against former Tagum City Mayor Rey T. Uy and 29 others implicated in the killing of 82 people around the area.

Mr. Duterte recently admitted to the accusations of at least condoning extrajudicial killings of petty criminals. “They say I am the death squad? True, that is true,” he said during the May 24 episode of ABS-CBN local talk show, “Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa.”

A leading contender for the presidency in the 2016 polls, Mr. Duterte said that if were to be elected, “fish in the Manila Bay will be fatter” because the 1,000 suspected criminals allegedly killed by the DDS “will become 100,000.”

Mr. Duterte recently tied with the Liberal Party’s presumptive presidential candidate Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” A. Roxas II in the Social Weather Stations’ first quarter polls on March.

While their 15% ratings trail behind Vice-President Jejomar C. Binay (36%) and Senator Grace Poe-Llamanzares (31%), Mr. Duterte notably leaped ten points from his previous showing in December 2014. -- Vince Alvic Alexis F. Nonato