Int'l group: LP member now Duterte supporter linked to killings
Rosette Adel ( - November 28, 2015 - 11:55pm

MANILA, Philippines —  An international human rights group said a stalwart of the ruling Liberal Party who recently pronounced support for Davao City Mayor Rodrigo "Rody" Duterte is linked to a death squad.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) revived its report on the Tagum Death squad killings following reports that former Tagum City Mayor Rey "Chiong" Uy swung from supporting LP to backing the presidential bid of Duterte.

In the group's May 21, 2014 report "Philippines: Death Squad Linked to Hundreds of Killings," it urged the Philippine government to conduct an investigation into the alleged role of Tagum City officials and police in a decade of murders of criminal suspects.

The group said the government should look into the alleged death squad patterned after the so-called Davao Death Squad linked to Duterte. It suggested that the armed Tagum group caused the 298 killings between January 2007 and March 2013 in Tagum City.

The organization also said that although the killings are attributed to the Tagum squad, no one has been prosecuted so far.President Benigno Aquino III, morever, has largely ignored the cry for justice for extrajudicial killings in the country.

"The Tagum Death Squad was initially a crime-fighting group patterned after the death squad in nearby Davao City, which propelled that city’s mayor, Rodrigo Duterte, to national fame," the report said.

In May this year, the HRW also urged the government to investigate the alleged Davao Death Squad linked to Duterte. It said the Philippines should not tolerate any government official who publicly endorses extrajudicial killings as a form of crime control.

The HRW has, moreover, published a 103-page report "You Can Die Any Time: Death Squad Killings in Mindanao," on the Davao squad.

Duterte then challenged the HRW to sue him for being tagged in the activities of the paramilitary group. He also retracted his earlier admission that he has links to the armed Davao men saying that the DDS is his principle, Davao Development System, and not the Davao Death Squad.

Uy, meanwhile, denied accusations that he is behind an alleged death squad responsible for unsolved killings in Tagum City. He claimed the HRW report was a product of black propaganda initiated by his political rivals.

Uy described one of the HRW’s report titled: "One Shot to the Head: Death Squad Killings in Tagum City, Philippines" as "very unfair."

The former mayor, seeking reelection in the 2016 polls, expressed on Saturday support for Duterte’s presidential candidacy.

"We’re throwing our support behind Duterte as it is a once-in-a-blue moon opportunity to have a Mindanaoan running for the presidency," Uy said in a previous report.

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