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DDS members already in Metro, part of PNP—report

drug user drug war crime

This picture taken on January 18, 2017, shows policemen investigating a body of an alleged drug user on the ground after an unidentified gunmen shot him dead in Manila.
AFP FILE PHOTO

An undetermined number of alleged civilian members of the Davao Death Squad (DDS) have relocated to Metro Manila and have been supposedly integrated into the Philippine National Police (PNP) to carry out President Rodrigo Duterte’s war against illegal drugs in the nation’s capital.

This was the claim in an unpublished, unofficial report on extrajudicial killings (EJKs) of drug suspects written by a retired police intelligence officer in January, relying on sources within the Philippine National Police (PNP).

The report said that the DDS has now metamorphosed into the Presidential Death Squad (PDS), claiming Mr. Duterte himself “authorized” the DDS deployment to the National Capital Region (NCR) in July last year.

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It is the PNP itself that has been carrying out the killings, and not vigilante groups, the document said.

READ: Police paid to kill drug suspects, plant evidence—Reuters report

The document also attempted to explain President Duterte’s “obsession” with killing drug suspects, claiming this stems from his belief in “social cleansing.”

The President, a self-confessed “leftist”, supposedly drew inspiration from Mao Zedong’s China where the “lumpen proletariat” or those in the lower classes of society uninterested in the revolution, were eliminated.

The report relied on information from “more than a dozen active PNP officers” and five retired police officials who all said that there were neither “legitimate police operations (LPOs) or vigilante killings (VK)” taking place but “state-sponsored EJKs initiated and sustained [by] decision of PRRD,” the initials of President Duterte.

An estimated 8,000 drug suspects have been killed, mostly in Metro Manila, since President Duterte, who  vowed to eradicate the drug menace that has supposedly turned the country into a narco-state, assumed office in June last year.

On the contention that the administration’s drug war was social cleansing, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said that was an unfair description and lamented that the President was being made to look like a killer.

“They’re framing the President as some sort of killer. He’s being framed, if you put it that way, which I think is unfair,” Abella said when sought for comment.

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Mr. Duterte, who often threatens to kill drug peddlers and criminals, has denied that the state was behind the extrajudicial killings of drug suspects.

READ: ‘Duterte liable for drug killings’

He has contended that it was not illegal for him to threaten criminals, and said he never ordered police to kill. According to him, his order to state forces was to arrest drug suspects, but not to hesitate to shoot them if they showed violent resistance.

A source who requested anonymity furnished the Inquirer with a copy of the EJK report over the weekend, saying that it has been making the rounds in the PNP but is considered a white paper because of its unofficial nature.

While the Inquirer could not independently verify the claims made by the report, some of the details it mentioned, such as Mr. Duterte’s idea of social cleansing, how police stations organize its men to comprise the death squads, and the reward system bear a striking resemblance to the narrative of self-confessed DDS hitman, Arturo Lascañas.

READ: Duterte paid us to kill, says ex-cop

Lascañas is now in Singapore, saying he hastily left the Philippines on April 8 after tracker teams had located his safe house.

Lascañas provided the Inquirer with a matrix of his death squad unit when he was an active policeman in Davao City.

Then Mayor Duterte headed every death squad unit created by every police station commander but each unit acted independently of each other, such as having their own leaders and kill list.

In his matrix, Lascañas said from 1988 to 1998, he reported directly to the late police Colonel Ernesto Macasaet, who headed the anti-crime unit.

Macasaet and three other police officers—Sonny Buenaventura; Disederio Cloribel; and Teodoro Paquidopon—all trusted aides of Mr. Duterte reported directly to the mayor.

After Macasaet’s death, Lascañas said he began reporting to Buenaventura, who relayed to Mr. Duterte the targets and the accomplished hits. He also handled the disbursement of the reward money.

The 26-page EJK report detailed the cycle of carrying out an EJK, which starts from the police station or police community precincts of the five police districts in NCR and possibly replicated in other parts of the country.

The report alleged that a Caloocan Death Squad (CDS) was organized last year and its policemen mistakenly killed seven people on Dec. 23.

Lascañas said that in his almost two decades as a DDS hitman, he believed in then Mayor Duterte’s mantra: that criminals will always be recidivists.

“Perwisyo (inconvenience)” was how the mayor described the criminals who would keep on repeating their crimes, Lascasñas said.

“Yan naman ang parating parlance ni mayor. Parang salot sa lipunan (That’s what the mayor always said; that they are the plague of the society),” the retired police officer said.

Lascañas said that even the people of Davao City seemed to approve of the social cleansing, because “the mayor never lost an election.”

But Lascañas said the DDS had also given other hitmen the idea that killing was a lucrative business. He said he learned that his own hitmen, also called “players”, were already contracting murders outside of their DDS kill list.

Both Lascañas and fellow DDS whistleblower, Edgar Matobato, have said that they are now seeing their old job of killing off drug suspects and other undesirables in society being replicated in President Duterte’s war against illegal drugs.

The report claimed that the “migration of the DDS to NCR” was to “augment and assist the PNP Anti-Illegal Drug Group (AIDG) in tracking high value targets of the PNP’s Double Barrel” as well as “illegally” raise money to fund the “reward system for the war on drugs.”

The report said that the DDS plans to expand its members to 90, a “company sized” group, that would be integrated in selected PNP units in “selected” regions and provinces.

It detailed how policemen carry out the executions of alleged drug suspects, as well as the “reward scale.”

Police are supposedly paid P20,000 per street level pushers and users killed who are on the barangay (village) drug watch list; P10,000 for petty criminals who are not on the drug watch list; P50,000 for barangay councilors on the drug list; P100,000 for village captains on the drug list; P1 million to P2 million for mayors and drug distributors, retailers, and wholesalers; and P5 million for drug lords.

The report claimed that the designated “firer” – or shooter—gets half of the EJK reward.

The executions are carried out by motorcycle-riding assassins, by barging into the suspect’s house, or by abducting a suspect, subjecting him or her to torture before the execution, and then the body is dumped afterwards.

These are the murders filed by the PNP as “deaths under investigation,” the report said./rga

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TAGS: Arturo Lascañas, Davao Death Squad, DDS, drug killings, Edgar Matobato, PNP, Rodrigo Duterte, war on drugs
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