CHR to probe vigilante killings in Davao City; Duterte vows support to CHR probe

Duterte is blamed by rights groups for allegedly encouraging vigilante killings but the mayor has repeatedly said there are no state-sponsored killings in the city.

De Lima said two weeks ago, she met with Duterte who gave her a historical context of the rise of vigilante killings in Davao City

"Mayor Duterte is no. 1 in our list. He pointed out that the killings started during the rise of the Alsa Masa in the 1980s. But we want to know what the local government has done to stop the killings," de Lima told reporters and editors in a workshop on extralegal killings and enforced disappearances sponsored by the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR).

She said local government and police officials, as well as NGOs, the religious groups, media and the academe, will also be summoned to the public hearing.

"We want to know why there is no public outcry. Bakit walang witnesses? Is there public acceptance to the killings? We want to know the answers because we want to send a strong message to Devao City residents that these killings must be stopped and the perpetrators should be brought to justice," de Lima said.

The CHR chief said they have to check on the differing figures of persons summarily executed by the "Davao Death Squads " from the CHR regional office and media.

The usual pattern  of the killings involves motorcycle-riding men using the .45 caliber pistol as the weapon of choice to execute their victims. Lately, however, most of the killings in Davao City are done by stabbings, leading to fears that death squads have bred “copycats."

Senior Superintendent Ramon Apolinario, city police chief, maintained the Davao Death Squad or the DDS does not exist.

The vigilante killings have elicited international outcry from human rights groups. The Asian Human Rights Commission has appealed to de Lima and Philippine officials to investigate the vigilante killings in Davao City. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)