MANILA – Justice Secretary Leila De Lima bared that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is conducting a probe into the operations of the Davao Death Squad (DDS).
The probe began months ago almost simultaneous with a separate investigation into the Tagum Death Squad, she added.
De Lima said a self-confessed DDS "hitman" has come forward to testify about the death squad. She said the witness is now with the DOJ's Witness Protection Program."
"Ongoing na yan (NBI probe) for several months; halos kasabay yan ng Tagum Death Squad... kasi may lumapit na witnesss, may lumapit na someone who professes to be a DDS 'hitman.' This witness pertaining to the DDS is covered by the WPP and therefore, I cannot be giving you statements yet," she said.
De Lima stressed that her statements against Duterte have nothing to do with his possible presidential bid.
"I'm not saying these things because there's an election next year; I'm not saying this because he is a possible presidentiable. I don't care about those things, hindi po konsiderasyon ‘yan. I'm just really being consistent because I used to be the chair of the [Commission on Human Rights] and I'm a human rights advocate and defender," de Lima said.
Duterte, for his part, challenged his critics and detractors to file cases against him in court.
"Gusto ko sila pumunta dito. There's no need for you to go to the Ombudsman. There is no requirement that you go to the human rights. File directly in court. Then I'll place you under oath. Just execute an affidavit. Then I'll call you when it's my time for cross-examination. And I will show to the world how stupid you are," he said.
Duterte is a lawyer and a former fiscal.