Drug pushers in Davao to be ‘assassinated’ – Duterte

"Davao City is a dangerous place for criminals, especially drug pushers," said the mayor, who has waged a personal war against illicit drugs.

Duterte said he does not care about the report of Phillip Alston, special rapporteur of the United Nations, who included him as one of those responsible for summary killings in the city.

Alston in his 66-page final report, two pages of which were on his visit to Davao, said Duterte "dominates the city so thoroughly as to stamp out whole genres of crime, yet he remains powerless in the face of hundreds of murders committed by men without masks in view of witnesses."

Duterte said he will have the drug pushers hunted and killed and no UN report can deter him in his crusade against drugs. He dared UN representatives to include him again in their next report.

When Alston's final report on his Philippine mission in February came out late last year, Duterte said Alston's report was written by someone who "does not have training to be impartial" and who has made a very short visit to Davao for him to end up with those conclusions.

He described Alston's investigation as "limited only to NGOs." Alston did meet with NGOs here but also met with Duterte and officials from the military, police and the Commission on Human Rights.

Alston described Duterte as an "authoritarian populist" and in a state of denial over the existence of a death squad in Mindanao's premier city. He also noted that the human cost of the killings is "very high."

"The mayor is an authoritarian populist who has held office, aside from a brief stint as a congressman, since 1988. His program is simple: to reach a local peace with the CPP/NPA/NDF and to "strike hard" at criminals.

 He recounted his meeting with Duterte in February.

"When we spoke, he insisted that he controls the army and the police, saying, 'the buck stops here.' But, he added, more than once, 'I accept no criminal liability,'" Alston said.

Duterte clarified Alston's claim. "I am telling you now that the military has followed my lawful suggestions and the police my legal orders," he told the Regional Peace and Order Council's last meeting for 2007 in December.

Alston said Duterte repeatedly acknowledged it was his "full responsibility" that hundreds of murders committed in his watch remained unsolved but "he would perfunctorily deny the existence of a death squad and return to the theme that there are no drug laboratories in Davao."
"The mayor freely acknowledged that he had publicly stated that he would make Davao "dangerous" and "not a very safe place" for criminals, but he insisted that these statements were for public consumption and would have no effect on police conduct. "Police know the law. Police get their training," according to the Alston report.

"When was it ever wrong to threaten criminals?" Duterte asked as he claimed he was misinterpreted when he told the police he wanted them to solve the problem (of the killings) permanently.

"As a mayor, I cannot be soft. The overriding passion is to protect the city," he said.
 
Alston said the police used the "Davao Death Squad" as a "polite euphemism" to refer vaguely to "vigilante groups" when accounting for the shocking predictability with which criminals, gang members, and street children were extrajudicially executed.

He also pointed out that no one involved in the killings covered his face, indicating "strongly to the officially-sanctioned character of these killings."

Duterte's latest outburst came after receiving reports of alleged "persistent entry" into the city of prohibited drugs from a laboratory funded by a foreigner. The laboratory is reportedly outside the Davao Region.

Duterte warned he will go after the drug pushers even if their base is outside Davao City. "I will go after you, and I don't care if I'm not mayor there," he said.

He stressed that even if he has already resigned as chair of the Regional Peace and Order Council, he will continue to "operate outside to protect the city." (MindaNews)

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