MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday addressed once again the accusation that he ran a death squad during his more than 20-year reign in Davao City.
In a speech in Cebu, Duterte denied allegations that he specifically ordered the killing of certain individuals, contrary to the claims of self-confessed Davao Death Squad hitmen Arthur Lascañas and Edgar Matobato.
“I never mentioned any particular name nor attributed any activity to anyone,” Duterte said.
The longtime Davao City mayor again admitted that there had been killings in his city, but these were results of legitimate police operations.
“My orders to the police and the military [were] very clear: Go out, hunt for them. Make them surrender so that you would their connections so we could gather evidence. But if they present a violent resistance, thereby placing your life in danger, p*****g i*a, patayin mo,” he said.
In his 12-page affidavit signed and notarized on Feb. 19, 2017, Lascañas claimed he personally witnessed Duterte giving orders and paying the Davao Death Squad (DDS) to carry out hits.
The affidavit lists the alleged DDS crimes that Lascañas first bared during a press conference last week, including the deadly raid on the house of alleged drug dealer Alan Tancio, the massacre of the Patasaja family, the bombing of Davao mosques, and the murders of Constabulary soldier Jun Bersabal and broadcaster Jun Pala.
"I was present when then Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte of Davao City ordered the killing of numerous men and women, and gave us reward money after we executed them," his affidavit read.
"I was responsible for the killing of many men and women, and at least one child, upon the instructions of Mayor Duterte."
Lascañas alleged that the band of mercenaries went after crime suspects at first, but later assassinated even innocent people on Duterte's orders.
"In the beginning, we targeted and killed drug suspects, drug pushers, snatchers, holduppers and other criminals. Later on, however, we were ordered by Mayor Duterte to go after and kill his personal and political enemies," he said.
On Thursday, Human Rights Watch released a report revealing alleged abuse of power by policemen carrying out President Rodrigo Duterte’s controversial war on drugs, suggesting that some policemen were involved in so-called extrajudicial killings.