Local officials and community leaders have expressed alarm over a sudden increase in crime incidence and other illegal activities in Davao City which until recently was described as “the most livable city” in the country until the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) painted a different picture.
At a media forum in Manila, Davao City Administrator Wendell Avisado noted the spike in crime cases in the wake of CHR investigation into “salvaging” or summary executions of criminal elements allegedly by Davao official’s men and supporters.
The CHR listed at least 568 cases over 10 years of alleged extra-judicial killings involving victims with criminal records, mostly notorious illegal drug traffickers and dope pushers on the list of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).
Other alleged salvage victims include known human traffickers, illegal recruiters, armed robbery and rape suspects.
Avisado warned there is evidence that emboldened criminal elements have revived their nefarious activities now that the beleaguered police and barangay officials are held back by the CHR probe led by Chairwoman Leila de Lima.
“This is a dangerous situation. With undue pressure on the police and local government authorities, criminals are now testing the waters. Our hands are tied, so to speak,”Avisado warned.
The city administrator disclosed reports of drug pushers lurking on the streets while theft and robbery incidents have been reported in areas where home invasions were unheard of prior the CHR investigation.
Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte called stories identifying him and his alleged “death squad” as behind the extra-judicial killings as “myth and a lame movie storyline” that his political detractors concocted.
“This is nothing but a smear campaign, a political demolition job against me,” Duterte said, adding “these are the same lies peddled by some foreign human rights organizations that sympathize with communist and terrorist groups.”
In response to the CHR probe, Duterte went on leave after the National Police Commission (Napolcom) declined his resignation as Napolcom representative in Davao City out of delicadeza. He asked Napolcom to reconsider his resignation or suspend his supervisory powers over the local police force.
“Mayor Duterte wants to give De Lima a free hand in her inquest,” Avisado said.
Duterte also offered to resign if De Lima can produce at least one credible witness who can stand trial against him.