CHR to probe Davao extrajudicial killings anew

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/1 Dec) – The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) will probe anew the extrajudicial killings in the city that linked possible involvement of local officials and the police to further verify the agency’s report during its first investigation two years ago.

But this time around, regional director Alberto B. Sipaco will be spearheading the investigation, unlike last time when the CHR’s national office initiated the probe, he said during the weekly I-Speak forum at the conference room at City Hall today.

The previous CHR investigation was headed by then Human Rights Commissioner, now Justice Secretary, Leila de Lima.

At least four public inquiries have been conducted since then, but CHR-XI was excluded in the probe for its own protection.

Initial results of the investigation as furnished to Sipaco, however, recommended that there should be further investigation to verify the issues raised during the public inquiries.

“There was still no sufficient evidence. We need to verify and investigate it,” Sipaco said.

He added that the regional office is currently mulling on where and when to start the next round of investigations, and how to approach the issue.

The investigation initiated by the CHR national office in March 2009 looked into allegations that the vigilante squad behind the extra judicial killings was supported by then mayor and now Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

A fact-finding team earlier found that 720 cases of summary executions occurred from 2005 to 2008, at least 399 of which remained unsolved.

United Nations Special Rapporteur Philip Alston said “such killings were almost a daily occurrence in Davao City, jumping from a reported 116 in 2007 to 269 in 2008.”

Duterte himself admitted also having difficulty in solving the spate of killings in the city.

In July 2009, the CHR exhumed skeletal remains of persons believed to have been victims of vigilante killings after an alleged member of a suspected death squad aided the commission in locating the burial site.

The bones are currently under the custody of CHR.

Sipaco said they would not, however, use the bones anymore in the next round of investigation. “We would look for other skeletal remains,” he said. (MindaNews)