JUSTICE Secretary Leila de Lima on Monday said murder charges can be filed against Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte for admitting his links to the Davao Death Squad (DDS) believed to be behind extrajudicial killings in the city.
“Killing is killing, and therefore if he admitted that he is responsible for these killings, then he must be criminally liable,” de Lima said.
The DOJ chief said Duterte’s admission that he has links with the death squads is disturbing because it gives the impression that the Philippines tolerates extra judicial killings.
“Those statements of his at the very least are annoying and definitely disturbing. I mean, what kind of statements are those—a public servant, one who is very popular and idolized by many, making those statements?” de Lima told reporters.
“If we would agree with such views, international organizations like Human Rights Watch will mock us. Some of us are happy and they idolize Mayor Duterte. But is that right? It’s not right,” she added.
The Justice chief said she has tapped the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to probe the DDS.
The NBI earlier conducted an investigation on a death squad in Tagum City in Davao del Norte and filed charges against former Mayor Rey Uy and 28 others for multiple murder in March. The Tagum Death Squad was behind the extrajudicial killings of at least 82 persons from 2008 to 2012.
De Lima said they have a witness who disclosed the operation of the DDS.
“This witness pertaining to the Davao Death Squad has been under WPP (witness protection program),” she said.
De Lima said the people should not idolize Duterte especially after the mayor threatened that the number of criminals who will be executed by death squads will increase if he is elected president.
“If I become president you better hide. The 1,000 (people killed) will become 50,000. I will kill you all for making the life of the Filipino miserable,” Duterte said in a televised interview.
But de Lima said the people should not be “titillated” by the mayor’s statements.
“It’s not right. It’s doubly disturbing for society to accept that mindset,” she said.