MANILA - Killing criminals who commit heinous crimes is not a crime, especially if they are armed and resist arrest, at least for presidential aspirant Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.
In an interview on radio dzMM's "Ikaw Na Ba? Para Sa Pamilyang Pilipino" Wednesday, Duterte admitted that he has actively participated in the execution of several criminals in his city ever since he was elected mayor.
"Ay susmaryosep, marami na," said Duterte, who was first elected mayor of Davao City in 1988.
Duterte, who filed his certificate of candidacy (COC) for president under the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) replacing Martin Diño, again recalled during the interview the instance when he shot to death three men who abducted a Chinese girl.
He said he was just three months into his first term as mayor in 1988 when the suspects kidnapped a girl and brought her to a neighboring province where they repeatedly raped her, before they went back to Davao City supposedly to get the ransom money from the victim's family.
Duterte, accompanied by three men, said that after he was assured that the victim had already been safely secured, he did not think twice about shooting the kidnappers, who, he said, were holding carbines.
"Hinintay ko na lang. Nung bumaba sila, wala na ako, basta pinagbabaril ko na lang. May hawak na carbine e," he said.
"I was part of it," he admitted. "Actually, I was the most active kasi nakaubos ako ng dalawang magazine ng .45."
He said they were then able to retrieve the ransom money, which, he said, was smeared with blood.
In the interview, Duterte said he does not believe his act of killing the three rapist-kidnappers can be considered a crime.
"Hindi crime yun because they were committing a crime in my presence and I was the person in authority under the law...Pagsabi ko 'Taas ang kamay', walang tumaas ng kamay. Binira ko na," he said.
He also recalled how he shot "at a distance" suspects in the kidnapping of the wife of a landed gentry in Davao.
He said the suspects were stopped at a police checkpoint after the kidnap victim's spouse spotted them.
"Ako, I took a shot. Maybe pam-practice rin, kung makatama," he said.
Duterte was also asked if reports that he killed a drug dealer by dropping him from a helicopter are true.
Duterte was initially silent for a few seconds before saying: "Wala naman nakatingin noon."
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Despite his admission, the tough-talking mayor said he is not in favor of extrajudicial killings "in the sense na yung nakatali yung kamay sa likod tapos nakaluhod."
"Ayaw kasi maniwala ng tao, pati yung [Commission of] Human Rights, na itong mga kriminal, may armas ito. Most of them, if not all, pagdating niyan may armas talaga yan, lumalaban yan. And that is really the insanity caused by drugs," he stressed.
"At ang sinasabi ko naman sa mga pulis, 'Palabanin mo. Please naman, lumaban ka, kriminal, para mapatay ka na namin,'" he said.
The 70-year-old mayor also said it was "pure sarcasm" when he said he had already executed a total of 1,700 people.
Speaking to reporters at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) Tuesday, Duterte said: "700 daw ang pinatay ko? Nagkulang ho sila sa kwenta... Mga 1,700."
"That's pure sarcasm," he said in the dzMM interview. "Parang binabastos mo ako eh, 700, eh saan yung death certificates? Ipakita mo nga. Pati yung malaria diyan na bumagsak, sa akin."
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He, however, did not deny that there were cases of extra-judicial killings in Davao, especially during the martial law period, when there was a "war" between the government and the New People's Army (NPA).
"We used to lose about, on the average, 3 to 5 soldiers a day sa Davao," he said.
"Kaya yang death squad na yan, nadagdagan na nga ng 'D,' naging DDS. During my time, since it was repeatedly used against me, pulitika, 'Sige, I accept it, totoo yang DDS.' May spin. That is what I used, Davao Development System. O, nakita mo, maganda na tayo."
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Asked how many he has actually killed, he just said: "Yung iba, baka sa panaginip ko lang."
The Human Rights Watch earlier denounced the more than 1,000 killings committed by the so-called Davao Death Squad (DDS) since the late 1990s.
Amnesty International (AI) Philippines has likewise said it is "bothered" by the presidential candidacy of Duterte. "Yes, we are bothered. Naaalarma kami when he said that when he becomes president, he will impose the death penalty on a weekly basis," AI Philippines chairperson Ritz Lee Santos said.
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'BAKIT AKO MATATAKOT?'
Duterte, who has time and again warned lawbreakers, especially drug traffickers, not to go to his city or else they will be killed, said he is not afraid of any criminal.
"Bakit ako matatakot? Sila yung masama, ako yung nagsasabi sa kanila na gobyerno ito, tumahimik sila."
According to Duterte, he will also not think twice about killing members of the police force when they commit any "wrongdoing."
He cited two separate instances when cops involved in kidnapping incidents in Davao ended up dead.
"Sinasabi ko sa mga pulis, 'Pag gumawa kayo ng masama, mauuna talaga kayo. You have to go first,'" he said.
Duterte, meanwhile, admitted that there are still many incidents of crime in Davao. But, he said, "As long as yung namatay, yung dapat mamatay. In protecting the community... I do not care if we were the highest in the country, kung lahat naman ng napatay diyan eh kriminal, eh di maligaya ako."
The mayor said he is in favor of restoring the death penalty, especially for drug-related and other heinous crimes.
"There are about 1,000 pwedeng i-execute, dapat i-execute but because it was put off maybe because of the strongest influence of libertarians in the Church, the previous president decided not just to implement it," he said.