COMMISSION on Human Rights (CHR) Chairperson Leila de Lima on Monday slammed the local government of Davao City for failing to address the unabated string of vigilante killings since 1998 in the city.
“The Davao City Local Government prides itself in its peacefulness and orderliness despite an unabated string of vigilante killings since 1998 and that the same local government has failed time and again to put an end to this brand of criminality despite claiming a general hard-line stance against criminals,” de Lima said.
De Lima also scored the incompetence of the government officials in Davao City for “being unable to catch criminals in its own backyard.”
“No one here, from the police, the prosecutors, and the local government officials, will admit ineptitude. No one can admit being inept especially since Davao City public officials openly announce how peaceful and orderly the city is,” de Lima added.
The head of CHR said at least 538 people have been killed, including 185 young adults and 45 minors since 1998 adding that statistics vary, “perhaps exaggerated or downplayed.”
“Children are being executed. Nowhere in the world, nowhere in the human race is the killing of minors acceptable,” she stressed during the opening of the public inquiry on Davao Death Squad held in Royal Mandaya Hotel in Davao City.
De Lima earlier said that the esoteric Davao Death Squad remains beyond the ambit of local law enforcement. “Many suspected criminals, including drug-pushers, thieves and robbers have been the target of these vigilante killings,” she said.
Mayor Rodrigo Duterte of Davao City and Philippine National Police Chief Jesus Verzosa were present during the first of the public inquiry of the CHR on Davao Death Squad from March 30 to 31.
The CHR earlier said the en banc would also hold a public inquiry on the murder of Rebelyn Pitao, 20 years old, and daughter of Leoncio Pitao, alias commander Parago, a ranking official of the New People’s Army, on April 1.
“We must determine the true extent of extralegal killings in Davao City, and its implication on a genuine vision of peace and order. We must examine the reasons and causes for the persistence of vigilantism and to explore the measures we can take to end this criminality,” de Lima said.
De Lima also called on the Davaoeños to speak “against the dreadful specter of the Davao Death Squad.”
“To those who truly have the strength of character and courage, be upstanding, and help us with information, help us with leads, with witnesses. Help this city shed this awful, dreadful malaise,” de Lima said.
–Ira Karen Apanay, Manila Times