House cleared Duterte in 1989 Davao hostage case

Jess Diaz - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The House of Representatives cleared Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte in the hostage-taking incident at the Davao Penal Colony in 1989.

It was during the incident that Duterte said he uttered his controversial remark about an Australian rape victim. The statement, repeated in a campaign sortie last weekend, has become controversial and has gone viral on social media.

Duterte’s rivals in the presidential race, netizens, women’s groups and other sectors are now lambasting the mayor for the remark.

“Yes, we cleared him. We found no evidence against him, nothing,” former House speaker Prospero Nograles, who was representative of Davao City’s first district then, told The STAR yesterday.

The speaker at the time was the late Palawan Rep. Ramon Mitra Jr. Nograles and Duterte were then political rivals. However, Nograles and his son Karlo, the incumbent representative of the first district, are now supporting Duterte’s presidential candidacy.

Nograles said it was the committee on public order, chaired by then Taguig Rep. Dante Tinga, which investigated the hostage-taking incident.

“I was part of the panel. I wanted to find evidence against Mayor Digong but we could not find any. We looked into the massacre of the inmates led by a certain Pugoy. They all died,” he said.

He said he used the issue against Duterte in 1992, when he first ran for mayor but lost.

“I wanted to defeat him, but the issue fell on deaf ears,” he added.

Clarifying the context of his controversial statement about the Australian rape victim, Duterte admitted that he and his brother, whom he described as a shooter, were among those who killed Pugoy and at least four inmates.

Seeing the rape victim, he said he got angry, and remarked: “P…ina, napakaganda nito, parang artistang Amerikana. Nauna pa sila sa mayor.”

He said he then got his Uzi from his pick-up truck and led his brother and soldiers in firing at Pugoy and his group.

“I issued a shoot-to-kill order,” he said.

He added that the inmates were armed with two M-16s and one M-14.       

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