Duterte to De Lima: File case in court
DAVAO CITY—“If I was using my power as mayor to execute people, (former Speaker Prospero) Nograles would have been dead long ago,” Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said, referring to his political rival.
The tough-talking mayor was reacting to statements of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima linking him to the shadowy Davao Death Squad (DDS), which is reportedly behind the summary executions of some 1,000 suspected criminals in the city.
“This would have been his 28th (death) anniversary,” said Duterte, whose fierce rivalry with Nograles is widely known in Davao City. “But as you noticed, I never filed a single case against him, though he’s often been filing cases against me.”
The mayor denied earlier reports that he directly admitted his links to the DDS. “I have denied DDS as a criminal group, but I always use the Davao Development System, that’s my guiding principle,” he said.
He dared De Lima to file a case against him in court. “If she files a case, I’ll waive the preliminary investigation, but she has to execute an affidavit because I’m going to question her,” he said.
“I’d love to cross-examine her,” said Duterte, a lawyer who served as a government prosecutor before he was elected mayor.
De Lima, in a text message to reporters in Manila, said the mayor’s accusations against her were nothing new and that she would continue to speak her mind on the issue of human rights violations.
“I cannot be threatened and cowed by anyone! He can continue to insult and vilify me for all I care. But I will not top saying what I want and need to say on the issue of summary executions, in general, and on the Davao Death Squad, in particular,” she said.
The secretary earlier said the National Bureau of Investigation had already gotten hold of a witness who will be used identify the members and leaders of the vigilante leaders group and build cases against them.
Duterte said that as early as the Senate hearing in February in 2013, he had tipped off De Lima about the drugs and the inmates going in and out of the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City, but the secretary, he added, ordered the raid only in December, which exposed the luxurious lifestyle of inmates at the maximum security prison.
“You accuse me of extrajudicial killing, which is criminal, but look at your own backyard, especially Muntinlupa,” he told De Lima. “By culpable neglect, many were able to sneak in, you did not do anything. You raided only now, you built Hilton Hotel right in Muntinlupa, you allowed it, look at your own backyard.”
“I told you, look at your own backyard, a more serious crime is committed every day. Prisoners going in and out of prison, doing kidnapping and hold-ups outside,” Duterte said. “Women, drugs, being allowed inside, and you have the gall to accuse me of extrajudicial killings of criminals?”
“You fatten them. Your penal colony guard selling shabu with prisoners outside, what’s happening to the country? he asked.
“I’m the only local official talking against drugs and you have the gall to say I’m killing the criminals, while you fatten them in and out of prison. What are you doing to the criminals in this country? Answer me,” he added.
Duterte clarified that this remarks in his Sunday television program were not an admission to anything but were meant to challenge his critics to come to Davao City and directly file charges against him.
Food for fish
It would be a misfortune for criminals if he would agree to run for President because he would execute both the criminals and the corrupt and throw them into the Manila Bay, he said.
“I’ll throw them into Manila Bay, to fatten the fish, the criminals and the corrupt together, so it will just be in one fell swoop),” Duterte said in Filipino.
But he stressed that he never ordered the police to kill anybody because he would kill them himself.
“That has not happened yet,” Duterte said. “The farthest that I’ve gone is I’ve been threatening the criminals away from the city.” With a report from Jerome C. Aning in Manila