No death squad involved in GenSan killings – police

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/18 August) – Police officials here dismissed the possibility that an alleged death squad could be behind the spate of killings in the city in the past several months.

Senior Supt. Cedric Train, acting city police director, said Wednesday the results of their investigation showed that there has been no pattern in the recorded killings and there were no indications that they were done by organized groups.

“We did not see any distinctive pattern in these killings and the motive so far is different from each other. So we cannot say that a single, organized group is behind all these incidents,” Train said.

The police official said that based on the progress reports on several gun-related murders in the city in the past months the motives they established include land conflict, crimes of passion, personal grudge and revenge or retaliation.

Train acknowledged that there were speculations that a so-called death squad alternately called Dadiangas Death Squad and Tuna City Death Squad was behind the killings but that this has not been confirmed.

The alleged existence of the supposed Dadiangas Death Squad or DDS came up several years ago when a series of unsolved summary killings hit the city.

The victims of the supposed death squad were mostly persons implicated in various crimes, especially drug-related cases, and the attackers were mostly motorcycle-riding men.

The DDS tag was clearly a reference to a supposed similar vigilante group in Davao City called the Davao Death Squad, which was tagged in over a thousand cases of unsolved murders for several years now.

“There’s no such kind of operation here. We acknowledge that there has been an unusual rise in killings but the idea that these were the handiwork of a death squad does not hold a fact based on our investigations,” Train said.

But the police official admitted that they need to double their efforts to effectively end the gun-related killings in the city and bring justice to the victims.

Train said he already ordered all police units in the city to intensify their community patrols and random checkpoints to curb the rising cases of street crimes and other related incidents.

“I ordered our police station chiefs to file progress reports from their areas of responsibility every three hours,” he said.

He added they intensified their campaign against the carrying of unauthorized and loose firearms based on the provision of Executive Order 23 issued by City Mayor Darlene Antonino-Custodio declaring the entire city as a “no-firearm zone”.

In issuing EO 23, Custodio cited as main reason the prevalence of armed violence and crimes involving firearms in the city since January 2010 that has reached an alarming level.

For this month alone, the city already recorded at least a dozen gun-related killings, among them the daring murder of Barangay Calumpang councilman Carlito Cahilsot last August 4.

At least three killings were recorded on Thursday alone last week and another four incidents ensued during the last three days. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)