MANILA - Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has backtracked on his earlier admission that he has links to the Davao Death Squad, which is allegedly responsible for summary executions of criminals in the city.
In an earlier interview with Davao television show ''Gikan sa Masa Para sa Masa'', Duterte answered allegations that he is behind the extrajudicial killings in the city perpetrated by the death squad.
"Ako, ako daw death squad? True, that's true," he said.
The mayor, however, now said he was referring to the Davao Development System (DDS), and not the death squad.
''I always used the word. Walang DDS dyan. That is Davao Development System. That is my guiding principle,'' he said.
Duterte said he never ordered anyone killed.
''Walang akong sinabing 'pumatay kayo'. I never did it. I do not talk to the police even. I only talk to the police at nandyan ang media. And when I give money nakikita niyo. You know I give P15,000 sa mga station commanders kasi kulang talaga ang budget ng police. That's for their operation and intelligence,'' he said.
''[I also give] P50,000 to the city director. I said spend it just to zero in on the drugs."
Human Rights Watch earlier denounced the more than 1,000 killings committed by the Davao Death Squad since the late 1990s. Police and local government officials were reported to be involved in the targeted killings of alleged drug dealers and petty criminals, street children and others.
Duterte himself has boasted that Davao has become one of the world's safest cities simply by killing all criminals.
Duterte's supposed admission prompted Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to suggest that the mayor may face criminal raps.
Responding to De Lima's statements, Duterte told the justice secretary to just file a case in court against him. He said De Lima, who is reportedly eyeing to run in the upcoming elections, is just using him to advance her political ambitions.
''Iyan si De Lima nagpa ek-ek lang yan kasi gustong tumakbong senador. Then I said you file a case against me… You file the case and make yourself as the complainant and I will place you in the witness stand… I will also answer everything, but i want you there to answer about your personal and professional dealings,'' he said.
The mayor also told de Lima "to look in her own backyard'', referring to the anomalies inside the New Bilibid Prison, which is supervised by the Bureau of Corrections, a DOJ attached agency.
'' Look at your own backyard, especially in Muntinlupa…May droga niluluto sa loob and you accuse me of extra judicial killings sa puro criminals? Ikaw you fatten them. Pinapataba mo ang mga kriminal sa loob,'' he said.
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