The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has started looking into the alleged involvement of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte in extra-judicial killings after he publicly admitted that he had a hand in the killing of at least three kidnap-for-ransom suspects.
“We are now looking into the cases, specially the ones that he had admitted in public like the killing of criminals,” CHR Chairman Jose Luis Gascon told The Manila Times at the sidelines of a forum at the Asian Institute of Management in Makati City on Friday.
The 70-year-old tough-talking mayor has filed a certificiate of candidacy (COC) for President as a substitute candidate of PDP-Laban.
His COC is under question and pending before the Commission on Elections.
Duterte, who is known for his hard stance on criminality, was recently interviewed by a radio station in Manila where he made the revelation.
He also uttered similar statements–threatening to personally execute suspected felons—in past speeches.
Duterte vowed to rule with an iron-fist if he wins the presidency and replicate nationwide the “crime-free” atmosphere in Davao City where he served as mayor, vice mayor and congressman in the last 30 years.
This, however, did not sit well with human-rights advocates.
“Of course, we want to stop this impunity in killings and other crimes. But the process must be within the bounds of the law,” said Gascon, a lawyer and a political strategist of the Liberal Party before his appointment to the CHR.
He, however, clarified that the CHR is not just zeroing in on Duterte.
Gascon said, “We are looking into the human rights records of all candidates.”
“You know, the CHR has offices in the regions. We are now collecting these records,” he added.
‘Davao not crime-free’
Liberal Party standard-bearer Manuel Roxas 2nd also on Friday labeled as “myth” Duterte’s claim that Davao City is one of the safest places in the country.
The former Interior secretary, in a statement, cited statistics from the Philippine National Police that said about 18,000 crime incidents were recorded in Davao City in 2014.
“Myth, kathang isip lang ‘yung payapa ang Davao City [claims that Davao City is peaceful is just a figment of one’s imagination],” he said in a forum at the Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City.
“Like all things in life, there is no magic wand, eveything that is worth something important to us, kailangang pagtrabahuhan, pagsakripisyuhan, tutukan natin [we need to work on it, sacrifice for it and stay focused],” Roxas added.