De Lima: Duterte must be held criminally liable

By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 25 2015 03:23 PM | Updated as of May 25 2015 11:26 PM

MANILA -- Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte must be held criminally liable for admitting his links with the notorious vigilante group, Davao Death Squad (DDS).

This was Justice Secretary Leila De Lima's reaction to a televised interview of Duterte where he admitted his involvement with the DDS.

"Killing is killing, no matter what; and therefore, if ina-admit niya na he is responsible for these killings, then he should be held criminally liable," De Lima said.

De Lima, a former chairperson of the Commission of Human Rights (CHR), criticized Duterte's pronouncements that warned the public against electing him President in 2016 because he will hunt down all criminals and kill them.

"Alam nyo po, pag ako ang presidente, I will warn you, I do not covet the position. Pag naging presidente ako, magtago na kayo. Yung 1,000 na 'yan it would reach 50,000. I will kill all you [expletive] breaking the life of the Filipino miserable. Papatayin ko talaga kayo," Duterte said in a televised interview.

The justice chief said Duterte's statements are unbecoming of a public official.

"I find those statements of his, at the very least, annoying and definitely disturbing. Ano bang klaseng mga statements yan? Katawa-tawa tayo sa international rights community na here we are, we have public servant, a public figure at that, somebody very popular like Mayor Duterte and idolized by many and yet he makes those statements.

"I really find what Mayor Duterte or the statements of Mayor Duterte and what he stands for, when it comes to his approach against criminality, as abominable if not, reprehensible," De Lima said.

De Lima said what makes matters worse is that some sectors are "titillated" by the mayor's statements.

"Some are 'titillated' by those statements pero hindi siguro tama 'yun. Kung sasang-ayunan ho natin yung ganyang pananaw, katawa-tawa talaga tayo as sa society. International organizations, like Human Rights Watch, they take these things seriously. Pero tayo, yung iba sa atin natutuwa pa, lalong ina-idolize si Mayor Duterte because of that stance.

"But is that right? Hindi po tama yun... it's doubly disturbing for society to accept that mindset," De Lima said.


De Lima bared that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), an attached agency of the Department of Justice (DOJ), is conducting a probe into the the operations of the 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; said witness is now with the DOJ's Witness Protection Program."

"Ongoing na yan (NBI probe) for several months; halos magkasabay 'yan at 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 [Witness Protection Program] and therefore, I cannot be giving you statements yet," De Lima 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 (sic). 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 CHR 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.