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Mayor Rodrigo Duterte And The Davao Death Squads

April 8, 2009



Is the long-time lawyer-mayor of Davao City really involved in “targeted assassinations” widely suspected to be the handiwork of the motorcycle-riding members of the dreaded Davao Death Squads?

Far more than a rhetorical question, the answer seems to be YES, if we are to believe the testimonial evidence and other circumstantial information gathered by human rights advocates.

Aside from it over-all report on the Philippines, US-based Human Rights Watch’s accusing finger is pointed directly at Duterte:

The words and actions of long-time Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, some of which were quoted at the start of this report, indicate his support for targeted killings of criminal suspects. Over the years, he has made numerous statements attempting to justify the killing of suspected criminals. In 2001-2002, Duterte would announce the names of “criminals” on
local television and radio—and some of those he named would later become victims of death squad killings.

Duterte claims that Davao City has achieved peace and order under his rule. But with killers roaming the streets with the comfort of state-protected impunity, the city remains a very unsafe place. Available information points to an increasing number of death squad killings, including of persons such as Jaypee Larosa who appeared to have been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Duterte and other local officials continue to deny the existence of any death squad. But in recent years, mayors and officials of other cities have made statements attempting to justify similar killings in their own cities. Sadly, Davao City is seen by some as a model for fighting crime.

Just as disappointing, there is an almost complete lack of political will by the government at both local and national levels to address targeted killings and take action against the perpetrators. Based on consistent, detailed, and compelling accounts from families and friends of victims, eyewitnesses of targeted killings, barangay officials, journalists,community activists, and the “insiders,” Human Rights Watch has concluded that a death squad and lists of people targeted for killings exist in Davao City. We also conclude that at
least some police officers and barangay officials are either involved or complicit in death squad killings. Human Rights Watch believes that such killings continue and the perpetrators enjoy impunity largely because of the tolerance of, and in some cases, outright support from local authorities.

The failure to dismantle the Davao Death Squad and other similar groups, prosecute those responsible, and bring justice to the families of victims lies not only with local authorities.

The administration of Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has largely turned a blind eye to the killing spree in Davao City and elsewhere. The Philippine National Police have not sought to confront the problem. And the inaction of the national institutions responsible for accountability, namely the Department of Justice, the Ombudsman’s Office,and the Commission on Human Rights, has fueled widespread impunity.

For Duterte there appears to be no way to escape the accusation even as he has resigned  from the Davao Task Force in charge of the peace and order situation and even gave up supervisory control of the Davao City Police Department.

Ultimately it will not just be Rodrigo Duterte in the dock but the national government itself.

Directly responsible for Duterte as his superior officer is Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno, the presidential alter ego.

Will they, individually or collectively, simply act blind and deaf to the public outcry her at home and beyond our borders???

13 Comments leave one →
  1. noeldacara permalink
    April 26, 2009 3:40 am

    …the city remains a very unsafe place “for criminals” 😉

    The is far safer than any other known city in the country.

    And as long as Duterte is still our mayor, I won’t have any doubts for my safety when roaming around the city even on late hours.

  2. jonasalbert20 permalink
    November 6, 2009 2:04 pm

    Yes! I agree with you Noel. These are people who doesn’t live here in our city and they don’t know exactly how safe we are here. There are those times that our city is reign by terror. But when our mayor took it over, a lot of changes happen especially the peace and order. We prioritize peace and order here and I don’t know what our other countrymen is prioritizing.

    I have seen this link of forum that could also be interesting. Please register…

    • February 27, 2010 7:32 am

      You are correct that I don’t live in Davao. But the issue here is human rights not summary justice. Still I fully respect your view.

      • marienel permalink
        March 29, 2010 4:56 am

        criminal people dont have the right to live

      • March 29, 2010 6:36 am

        Your second comment is essentially a repeat of the first.
        I’m approving it not because I subscribe to it but because Iu respect your right tto say it.

        However we cannot allow the rule of the jungle to ever prevail.

        How would you want to be on the receiving end of an accusation based on possibl manufactured evidence or false testimony?

        You forget we have a Bill of Rights.

  3. jonasalbert20 permalink
    February 27, 2010 3:34 pm

    Here’s the pathetic thing regarding human rights… Criminals don’t advocate “human rights”, they don’t care of their victims. A single criminal could danger a dozen of innocent civilians or even more. Yet, the commission still protect most of the criminals because their right is violated. Huh! I can’t understand.

  4. Noel permalink
    March 3, 2010 12:01 am

    Yes, absolutely…that’s what I’m also trying to say.
    And we are very lucky to have Mayor Duterte
    who also have the same sentiments as we MOST Dabawenyos have…

    Criminals don’t deserve human rights!

    We don’t care for the lives of these few outlaws for the risk of the many.
    These are not just criminals…they are proven in and out of jail and we don’t like it.
    The people of Davao point a finger on them, Mayor Duterte takes the action.

    as he have said…Siya ang amung SULUGUON. ^_^

    Although there are really some individuals who just wants to join with the DDS heat
    and kill like them.

    on my own opinion and observation…

    These people who criticize Mayor Duterte just wants PUBLICITY
    …and will soon be running for a place in the government.

  5. March 14, 2010 2:09 pm

    More should read up on world history – what inevitably happens to these so called “peaceful and orderly” states or regimes

  6. March 14, 2010 2:10 pm

    Not to mention the very nature of vigilante groups that they will do everything to protect themselves – collateral damage…

  7. March 29, 2010 7:17 pm

    I might have to agree with whois if I understand correctly what he is implying.

    How about a reporter or a bystander who witnesses DDS in action? I guess he or she has to shut up and hide forever for fear of being taken out even if he or she is innocent and is not a criminal.

    There’s something wrong with this kind of peace. You feel it in your gut.

  8. June 8, 2010 8:17 pm

    better yet, we owe what Davao now with Mayor Duterte… i respect the human rights activitist, but it seems most of the time you are one sided. I rather let the criminals die than let them reign terror here in Davao… if you’re from davao and have been living there since the 70’s till now, you can compare how safe the city is than before…


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