Gov’t found no evidence to link Duterte to death squad – lawyer
AS early as 2009, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) filed a case against Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte for his alleged involvement in the vigilante group Davao Death Squad (DDS) but found nothing to incriminate the mayor, now the “presumptive” next President of the Philippines, his lawyer said Tuesday.
“They found nothing. There was no evidence, just baseless allegations,” Atty. Vitaliano Aguirre, who represented Duterte in the 2009 case, said in a phone interview.
He said that was when Duterte’s rift with now-senatorial candidate Leila de Lima started. She was then the head of the Commission on Human Rights, which came under pressure from international human rights groups to act on the reported summary executions of petty criminals in Davao City by the DDS.
“May itinuturong libingan daw ng mga victims. May nakitang mga bungo pero libingan na yun noong panahon pa ng Hapon,” Aguirre said.
(They were pointing at a burial site of the victims. There were skeletons but that was a burial site during the Japanese occupation.)
De Lima earlier said the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) had a witness, a former DDS member, to link Duterte to the extra-judicial killings in Davao City.
Duterte and De Lima had a verbal spat on the issue last year with the mayor calling the Justice Secretary stupid.
“Gaga ka ba? Abogado ako bakit ko gagawin ’yan?” Duterte told De Lima.
Aguirre said if the justice department had evidence or a vital witness, a case should have been filed against Duterte.
“They should have filed a case against him if it’s true that they have a key witness,” he said.
Acting Justice Secretary Emmanuel Caparas said the DDS “could be speculative and could be rumor or urban legend.”
Still, Caparas said they took the issue seriously since it was brought to the department’s attention last year.
“There are agencies and agents actively investigating it (DDS), whether it’s true or not…There are matters kasi na may lead ka tapos nawawala tapos nabubuhay ulit,” Caparas said./rga