"You can die anytime" report on death squad killings launched Tuesday

The launch comes a full week after HRW-Deputy Asia director Elaine Pearson, gave the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) public inquiry on extralegal killings here, a preview of  the report that states, among others, that the killings may be “state-sanctioned.”

Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who spoke a day earlier in the two-day CHR public inquiry, had repeated his previous statements that “there are no state-sponsored killings in the city.”

Duterte also made another oft-repeated vow that he would resign the mayoralty if an “iota of evidence” would be presented showing him, the police or military, to be behind the killings, especially of minors.

Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch and Clarita Alia, mother of four death squad victims, will be at the press conference at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, ADB Avenue, Ortigas Center on the boundary of Quezon and Pasig cities tomorrow.

Targeted killings of alleged drug dealers, petty criminals, and street children in the Philippines is not new, but the number of victims, especially in Mindanao, has steadily increased each year,” the invitation of Human Rights Watch said.

“You Can Die Any Time,” it said, “details how victims are gunned down or stabbed to death in Davao City, General Santos City, and Digos City, while police fail to adequately investigate the killings.”

“With new evidence from eyewitnesses, families of victims, and death squad ‘insiders,’ the report documents the pattern of targeted killings, the profile of victims, and the structure and operation of the so-called Davao Death Squad. Human Rights Watch believes such killings continue and the perpetrators enjoy impunity largely because of the tolerance of, and – in some cases – outright support from, local authorities,” HRW said.

The report ”presses the government to investigate the killings and bring the perpetrators to justice.’

HRW’s e-mailed invitation dated April 3 was for a simultaneous press conference in Quezon and Davao cities on April 7. The Davao City press conference was supposed to be held at the Royal Mandaya Hotel, the venue of the CHR public inquiry last week.

But Brian Griffey, New York-based senior communications associate, said there will be no Davao press conference.

“I believe we accidentally sent out an invite for the news conference, which had been planned originally but won’t now happen. It was a miscommunication on our side due to traversing the varying time zones. Very sorry for any inconvenience,” Griffey said.

The report is available in three languages – English, Tagalog and Visayan/Cebuano. (MindaNews)