Digong mocks ex-cop’s claim he ordered killings ‘by the hundreds’
DAVAO CITY—President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday mocked witnesses who claimed that he had ordered vigilantes and policemen to kill drug suspects when he was still mayor of this city.
“These witnesses said that (the killings were) by the hundreds. That’s true, but I was mayor and devoted 23 years (of my life) going after illegal drugs. It should have been thousands (of killings) already,” Mr. Duterte said in an expletive-laden speech during the turnover of a drug rehabilitation facility on nearby Samal Island.
Without naming the “witnesses,” Mr. Duterte said one of them actually claimed that the deaths were “by the hundreds.” The President was apparently referring to retired SPO3 Arturo Lascañas.
In a Senate hearing last year, confessed hit man Edgar Matobato claimed that Mr. Duterte had personally given orders to members of the so-called Davao Death Squad (DDS) to execute criminals, including drug suspects.
Lascañas, whom Matobato tagged as the DDS leader, initially denied the claim but on Monday came out to confirm that Matobato was right all along.
To this, Mr. Duterte responded: “Why would I deny that? I gave the orders in the first place. But my order was, to the police, to find and hunt them (drug suspects and criminals). After that, (to) tell them to surrender. If they won’t yield and then seriously resist and attack you with arms, thereby your life as a policeman and a soldier is compromised, kill them.”
Because that was his order, the President said, he “will assume full legal responsibility for that.”
“That’s mine. If anybody should be haled to jail, it should be me,” he added.
Mr. Duterte pointed out that Davao City used to be “chaotic” but that he put it back in order. He acknowledged that the effort resulted in the killing of police scalawags and rogue soldiers.
“Including six policemen. Policemen and soldiers got killed because they were into drugs. They’re included,” he said.
“But my order was for their arrest and they should only be killed if they violently put up a fight. It would be funny if I told policemen to die and leave behind widows,” the President added.
Lascañas has also claimed that members of the death squad were paid for every pusher or criminal killed on Mr. Duterte’s orders.
Mr. Duterte had not responded to that claim but said his campaign would continue despite criticisms. “I don’t want to be remembered as one useless President who has done nothing about the drug problem,” he said.
Mr. Duterte explained that he had to declare a war on drugs because of the gravity of the problem.
“Why would not I? Putangina (son of a bitch), nine generals from the police are involved. So how difficult is this fight again? Forty out of 100 barangay captains are also involved in drugs. So they think this was an easy task? They are trying to downplay it?” he asked. He again showed a thick sheaf of papers purportedly containing the names of suspected drug lords and their protectors.
He said that some 6,000 policemen and 32 municipal mayors were involved in the drug trade.—ALLAN NAWAL
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