Philippine human rights chief urges ‘death squad’ probe
MANILA THE Philippines’ human rights chief called on Friday for a political ally of President Benigno Aquino to be investigated over a vigilante “death squad” that carried out hundreds of killings.
Commission on Human Rights chairwoman Loretta Rosales said Rodrigo Duterte, a powerful politician in the south and a member of Aquino’s Liberal Party, had allowed or accepted the killings in Davao city when he was mayor there.
“Obviously, he tolerated it and for that reason, he must be investigated. For him to just wash his hands and say he had nothing to do with it, is hogwash,” Rosales told AFP.
Duterte was mayor of Davao, the major trading city in the southern Philippines, from 1988 to 1998 and again from 2001 to 2010.
Hundreds of people were killed during his time as mayor, with rights groups alleging government-run vigilante groups murdered all types of alleged criminals, including street children, in an effort to wipe out crime.
Following an investigation that began three years ago, the commission said it found at least 206 killings of suspected criminals attributed to the “Davao Death Squads” from 2005 to 2009.
“These killings constituted a systematic practice of extrajudicial killings, which can be attributed or attributable to the media-dubbed Davao Death Squad,” the commission said.
The commission filed a resolution this week with the government’s Ombudsman and the Justice Department, calling for an investigation into Duterte and the killings.
Previous investigations into the killings had been unsuccessful because witnesses were afraid to come forward and local officials denied any knowledge.