Duterte wants to cross examine Human Rights Watch

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 25 May) – Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte said he is ready to cross-examine the Human Rights Watch, which last week urged the Philippine government to investigate his alleged role in the summary executions in the city.

Speaking at Sunday’s Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa, Duterte dared HRW to file a complaint here.

Replying to HRW’s claims, Duterte said, “That’s true,” apparently taunting the group. But then he added: “You know why? Because I want them to come here.”

He said he wants HRW to come over so “I will cross-examine you until kingdom come.”

“You are giving me hours just to put you to shame,” he said of the HRW. “I’m really pissed off,” he added.

He said there is no need to go to the Ombudsman to file charges against him.

“File directly under court. Just execute the affidavit,” Duterte said.

The mayor said he was ready to defend himself in court for all the alleged 1,000 summary executions.

HRW last week asked the city government to revisit the killings.

“The Philippine government should take a zero-tolerance approach to any public official who publicly endorses extrajudicial killings as an acceptable means of crime control,” said Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

The HRW statement, titled “Davao Mayor Duterte Epitomizes Impunity for Extrajudicial Killings,” said Duterte has condoned the killing of criminal suspects in apparent death squad killings, citing there had been around 1,000 killings since the 1990s.

“Duterte’s public support for the extrajudicial killings of suspected criminals should prompt a long overdue investigation into Duterte’s possible role in those deaths,” the HRW said.

Human Rights Watch documented the existence of the Davao “death squad” and Duterte’s role in it in the 2009 report titled “You Can Die Anytime.”

The United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings included the Davao killings in his 2009 investigation and called on the government to end the use of death squads as a means of crime fighting.

The Commission on Human Rights has also investigated these allegations and in 2012 issued a resolution saying that it found probable cause to recommend that the Office of the Ombudsman file murder charges against Duterte.

But the Ombudsman limited its investigation to the police officers implicated in the killings – not Duterte himself – finding 21 of them guilty of “simple neglect of duty,” and fining them the equivalent of a month’s salary.