BY ROGER M. BALANZA
Davao City Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said he had a far worse experience than the 21 officers of the Davao City Police Office slapped with penalty equivalent to one month’s salary by the Office of the Ombudsman for their alleged failure to stop the Davao Death Squad (DDS) killing spree.
I was painted like a warlord before the United Nations (UN), said Duterte, who suffered the ignominy of his image and integrity crucified before the Human Rights Commission of the New York-based world body.
Prior to the 2010 elections, the case of the DDS killings had been investigated by the Philippine government and brought to the attention of UN rights body by then Speaker Prospero Nograles, Duterte’s political rival, who urged an investigation into Duterte’s alleged link to the DDS blamed for the hundreds of extrajudicial killings in Davao City.
News report on a proposed UN probe on the DDS killings had attracted world attention.
In the Gikan sa Masa Para sa Masa television program on ABS/CBN on Sunday, Duterte did not name the person who brought up his alleged link to the vigilante group before the UN, leaving to the public to guess his identity.
You know who he is, he said, clearly referring to Nograles.
The case against the police officers was filed in 2010 prior to the May elections before the Ombudsman by a group which identified itself as the Davao City Deserves Good Government Movement.
Of course we know who is behind this group, said Duterte in the program.
He said the case was filed as a politician using his power was trying to reassign police and military officials deemed sympathetic to him.
The DDS was a major issue leveled against Duterte, then the sitting mayor, and daughter then vice mayor Sara Duterte at the approach to the May elections in 2010.
In the race, Sara beat Nograles by more than 220,000 votes in the mayoral fight; Duterte trounced Ben de Guzman, Nograles’running mate, by more than 300,000 votes in the vice mayoral derby.
Months prior to the campaign period, Nograles, tagging along with a state visit to the US of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, met with the UN Human Rights Commission in New York to bring up the case of the DDS extrajudicial killings, said the Team Nograles media bureau in a press release as the election fever started to heat up the city prior to the May polls.
The US visit followed an investigation by the Philippine Commission on Human Rights led by its then chair Leila de Lima, now the Justice Secretary., on the alleged link of Duterte and police and their tolerance of the killings.
Duterte and several police officers were among those invited for questioning by the de Lima probe.
The Hugpong sa Tawong Lungsod, Duterte’s homegrown party, in a press release then said the CHR investigation was politically motivated and instigated by Nograles, as part of mudslinging propaganda to shame the Dutertes.
The de lima probe would be followed by the release of results of investigation by human rights groups on the DDS killing.
Among the reports was that by the UN Human Rights Commission special rapporteur Philip Alston, which like the other reports squarely placed blame over the DDS summary killings on the police and local government.
This paper had earned a libel charge from the former Speaker for publishing a Hugpong press release accusing Nograles of “shaming the city before the world” for his complaint of human rights violations before the UN rights body.
For neglect of duty that resulted to 720 murders allegedly carried out by the DDS, the Ombudsman ordered the 21 officers to pay a fine equivalent to a month’s salary.
Police Senior Superintendents Catalino Cuy and Jaime Morente and Police Superintendents Harry Espela, Michael John Dubria, and Rommil Mitra were found guilty of Simple Neglect of Duty over the killings. Also found guilty were other police chief inspectors, police senior inspectors, and police inspectors.
Although the usual penalty for neglect of duty is suspension for one month, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales approved the modification of the penalty to just a fine.
A fact-finding team from the Office of the Ombudsman found that 720 people were murdered from 2005 to 2008, with deaths reaching as high as 259 in 2008. The murders were usually done by men riding in tandem on motorcycles and most of the deaths were related to the drug trade, the Office of the Ombudsman said.
Less than half of the murders were ever solved, the fact-finding team found.
“From the foregoing figures, it is evident that the respondents were remiss in their duty to significantly reduce the number of killings,” the Ombudsman’s decision read. The police officers were found guilty under the doctrine of command responsibility under Executive Order No. 226 (1995).
According to the complaint letter that prompted the Ombudsman to investigate the Davao Death Squad killings, high-ranking PNP officers were “directly involved” in the murders.
The Ombudsman said the officers were guilty of failing to “take preventive or corrective action either before, during, or immediately after (the crimes).”
Under that Executive Order, the police officials are presumed to have known about the crimes since they were both widespread and were “repeatedly or regularly committed within (their) area of responsibility.”
DUTERTE ON LINK TO
DAVAO DEATH SQUAD: So be it!
What is the reaction of Davao City Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to the Wikileaks expose about his alleged involvement in the Davao Death Squad, (DDS) blamed for hundreds of killings of suspected criminals in Davao City?
So be it, said Duterte on television in a previous edition of the Gikan sa Masa Para sa Masa on ABS/CBN.
Wikileaks is a populat website posting sensitive information on government dealings most of them classified.
In a recent post, the website reported on Duterte’s involvement in the death squad from documents purportedly sourced from the US Embassy in Manila.
Duterte had been probed for the killings by the Philippine Commission on Human Rights for his alleged “tolerance” of the extra-judicial executions.
Duterte had disowned role in the DDS, lamenting that his public warning against criminals about being summarily executed in his city was taken as fact of his link to the killings.
In the television program on ABS/CBN, Duterte came short of admitting his role in the killings of suspected drug lords in the city.
” I don’t want the druglords to kill me first,”he said. ROGERM. BALANZA
Return of DDS
is the “voice of God”
If the voice of the people is the voice of God, then the Dabawenyos’ loud call for the return of the Davao Death Squad (DDS) must be the “voice of God.”
Davao City Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte posited this logic as a survey strongly backed return of the shadowy motorcycle-riding gunmen of the DDS to their deadly business of shooting down criminals, amid a current rush of crimes in the city.
The text survey recently in the hour-long TV Patrol Southern Mindanao news program hosted by Paul Palacio and Melanie Severino on ABS/CBN-Davao, 593 respondents voted for return of the DDS, against 65 respondents for reinforcing the local police force, to curb the rising crime incidents in the city.
The DDS blamed as behind past summary killings had lain low the past few years after more than a decade of a murderous spree that triggered probes on human rights violations linking the local leadership and the police.
If the voice of the people is the voice of God, then the vote of the Dabawenyos for the return of the DDS is the will of God, he said in the Sunday morning show hosted by lawyer-journalist Geraldine Tiu.
Tiu commented the votes may not reflect the entire wish of the Dabawenyos, the survey being limited to a number of respondents.
But Duterte said he was sure that if all the Dabawenyos were asked the question, the ratio in the TV Patrol survey between votes for return of DDS against the votes of those who wanted to depend on a stronger police to arrest the surge in criminality, would remain constant.
It would be like the votes in the contest between Inday and Nogie, he said. His daughter Inday, now sitting Mayor Sara Duterte trounced former Speaker Prospero Nograles in the 2010 mayoral battle by more than 220,00 votes.
The votes expressed the anger of the Dabawenyos against criminals, said Duterte who is widely-known for his iron-fist policy against criminals during his 18 years as the city mayor.
The votes show the revolting anger of the Dabawenyos against rabid criminals, he said to dismiss Tiu’s comment the votes indicate prevalence of the “culture of violence” in the city.
But Duterte said there is a downside to the Dabawenyo vote condoning the DDS, blamed by human rights groups here as behind summary executions of more than a thousand criminal suspects.
Now the human rights commission would be accusing them of being ‘kunsintidor’ (tolerant) of the DDS, he jested.
Duterte himself had been investigated in 2009 by the Commission on Human Rights for his alleged role with the death Squad and the summary executions. The rights body said Duterte “tolerated” the DDS and the executions but has yet to release its findings on the investigation. ROGER M. BALANZA