Duterte denies involvement in Davao death squad

Giovanni Nilles - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - President Duterte yesterday denied any involvement in the so-called Davao death squad (DDS), saying it was a political tool used by the opposition during the elections.

“It started in Davao as a political issue. As a matter of fact, you go to Davao, the DDS is not really a DDS. It was during the time ‘Sparrow versus the DDS of government,’” Duterte said.

“That is not mine. They adopted it and attributed it to me. Then the opposition took it during election. But that’s okay,” he said.

Duterte pointed out not a single case was filed against him when Sen. Leila de Lima was chair of the Commission on Human Rights for seven years.

“She criticized me but did not file a case. As secretary of justice, she was building a name at my expense to become popular,” Duterte said.

The DDS is widely believed as being behind the killings of a number of people in Davao City.

At the Senate hearing, witness and self-confessed hit man Edgar Matobato claimed they killed people on Duterte’s orders, including Jun Pala, a broadcaster and critic of the then mayor of Davao City.

He also said the DDS was responsible for the bombing of a Muslim mosque after the Davao Cathedral was bombed in 1993.

Matobato also alleged Duterte had four bodyguards of his rival, Davao City Rep. Prospero Nograles, kidnapped and killed, aside from saying that the President’s son Paolo ordered the killing of billionaire Richard King in 2014 due to rivalry over a woman.

The 57-year-old witness appeared at the Senate yesterday to continue his testimony.

On Monday, De Lima was ousted as Senate justice committee chair and replaced by Sen. Richard Gordon.

The committee is looking into the alleged extrajudicial killings since Duterte took his oath as President last June 30.

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