BY ROGER M. BALANZA
Expressing deep hurt, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said he will shoot in front of City Hall members of a human rights group who slapped him with accusation he was behind the extrajudicial execution of hundreds of criminals including drug dealers in his city.
“Come to Davao City, do drugs and I will shoot you in front of City Hall,” said Duterte in his Gikan sa Masa Para sa Masa television program on ABS/CBN-Davao on Sunday, May 24.
If you want to get a taste of the Davao Death Squad, Duterte adds.
If they come to town, Duterte said he would run after the human rightists in drugs “up to the mouth of hell.”
“You are accusing me of something I did not do,” said the mayor addressing the Human Rights Watch (HRW), an international group based in the United States.
Last week, HRW urged the Philippine government to conduct a new probe on summary executions in Davao City by the DDS that it claimed was backed by Duterte.
HRW, in a statement, said it was urging for a new probe as Duterte, of late, has been going around the country to promote extrajudicial killing as a cure to rampant criminality in the country.
In 2009, the Philippine Commission on Human Rights (CHR) investigated Duterte over the same accusation. At about the same time as the fact-finding probe, the HRW released its own report, “ You could die anytime,” on the Davao City killings and Duterte’s alleged link to the DDS.
The CHR investigation has not pinned down Duterte.
While it spared Duterte, the Ombudsman, based on recommendation of the CHR, meted administrative sanctions on more than a dozen officers of the Davao City Police Office for failing to stop extrajudicial killings in their jurisdiction.
The CHR said then that the DDS is backed by the local government and police and unleashed on criminal suspects as part of Duterte’s anti-crime campaign.
But Duterte has repeatedly denied his link to the death squad.
Appearing in the probe held in Davao City led by then CHR chairman, now Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, uterte said his public warning of executions of criminals could not legally tie him down to the killings. In s recent statement, Duterte said his secret to peace is to “kill all criminals.”
In the Sunday program, Duterte, who is known for his iron-fist policy against criminality, admitted giving monetary reward to police.
But he said, the reward was not for the executions but for drug raps filed in the courts by police against arrested drug pushers.
There is no law against giving incentives to police for a job well done, he said.
Duterte said the rewards to police are public knowledge and given out witnessed even by the media.
Duterte is looming as a presidential candidate after placing in the top three of surveys for presidential preference.
The HRW said about 1,000 people perished under Duterte’s anti-crime campaign.
If I am the President, the killing of criminals could go “as high as 50,000 to 100,000.”
The fishes in the oceans will get fatter, he said.
The HRW call on the government to investigate Duterte over the killings had gained wide local and international media coverage.
Duterte, a lawyer, said that his accusers should instead file the charges in court where he would face them them to defend himself against the accusations.