DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/07 April) – Last week, “amazing” was all that Commission on Human Rights (CHR) chair Leila de Lima could say to end her 43-minute interrogation of Mayor Rodrigo Duterte on the alleged summary killings in the city.
Today, it is the mayor’s turn to say “amusing.”
Duterte told reporters he found it “amusing” that the New York-based Human Rights Watch report on alleged death squad killings in Davao City and neighboring areas, quoted other local chief executives as saying they are inclined to “use this strategy of scaring and intimidating criminals in our locality.”
“It’s just amusing that when they asked other mayors, they speak the same thing against criminals,” he said. “It is a strategy to intimidate criminals, to scare them,” he added.
Duterte also said that if the CHR and Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth “do not like what’s happening here, they better not come here anymore if they think that Davao City is a dangerous place.”
“They won’t understand me: they speak of human rights, I speak of securing the welfare of the entire city.”
He said he would not question the statistics. “The deaths are really there. If they cannot be accounted by the police, they would eventually turn up in the records of funeral homes”
“I would not deny that there are killings that are happening,” he said.
But Duterte said he would continue to say that “we are here to protect the law-abiding and God-fearing citizens and to make it doubly hard for criminals to do their thing here.”
“Look at the records of those who died, this so and so, a thief, a criminal, a drug pusher,” he said.
Duterte also said it is “too sweeping” to blame all the deaths of criminals on him. “Mind you, there would be drug addicts who would kill each other and gangsters who would hold street riots, and there would be victims. And they would blame them on me,” he said.
“You know, I cannot guard all parts of the city against criminals. But I am assuring you residents, that it is a safe place for all of you against criminals,” he said.
The 103-page Human Rights Watch report, launched at 10 a.m. at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Quezon City, “found evidence of complicity and at times direct involvement of government officials and members of the police in killings by the so-called Davao Death Squad (DDS).”
The report titled “You can die anytime: Death squad killings in Mindanao,” said that 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 offi
cials 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,” it said. (MindaNews)