Duterte calls US rights group hypocrite
DAVAO CITY, Philippines–Calling human rights groups hypocrites, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte cried foul over the recent statements calling for a full investigation on his alleged role in the Davao Death Squad.
Duterte, who was still in Hong Kong as of Tuesday, said in a statement sent to members of the media that it was ironic for the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) to criticize human rights conditions in the Philippines when recent racist attacks on African-Americans in its country should occupy its time.
“What?!!!??!! US- based human rights wants me investigated?! Bullshit!! You are all hypocrites! You cannot even protect the human rights in your own country the American-Africans and other minorities, not to mention your inutility in dealing with the genocide going on in Africa and other countries,” Duterte said.
Raising concern over thousands of killings attributed to the so-called Davao Death Squad since the late 1990s, HRW said Duterte should be investigated for his “possible role” in these summary executions.
“The Philippine government should take a zero-tolerance approach to any public official who publicly endorses extrajudicial killings as an acceptable means of crime control,” said Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
Kine said Duterte’s public statements confirming that his support of vigilantism should be enough for the government to start an investigation.
“Duterte’s public support for the extrajudicial killings of suspected criminals should prompt a long overdue investigation into Duterte’s possible role in those deaths,” Kine said.
The mayor, who is being egged by his supporters to run for president in 2016, is going around the country and lately in Hong Kong for a “listening tour.” The tour, which is supposedly a campaign for federalism, consistently transformed into a gathering of people and groups who are calling for his presidential candidacy.
HRW said the lack of comprehensive investigation has been alarming considering that the existence of the death squad was well-documented in its 2009 report and that even the United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings urged the government to stop the use of death squads against criminality in Davao City.
In 2012, the Commission on Human Rights issued a resolution after it found probable cause on the allegations and recommended for the Office of the Ombudsman to file murder charges against the mayor.
“But the Ombudsman limited its investigation to the police officers implicated in the killings–not Duterte himself–finding 21 of them guilty of ‘simple neglect of duty,’ and fining them the equivalent of a month’s salary. The country’s Court of Appeals later overturned the verdict, saying the Ombudsman merely used statistics against the police officers. To date, not one person has been convicted for involvement in any of the killings,” HRW said.
HRW expressed dismay that the Department of the Interior and Local Government, which has been vested with supervisory control over local government units as directed by the Office of the President, and the National Bureau of Investigation failed to investigate Duterte’s alleged role in the death squads.
“Duterte has a long history of inflammatory public statements that would seem to encourage the extrajudicial killing of suspected criminals. He has commanded his police officers to ‘shoot to kill’ people ranging from suspected criminals to rice smugglers. That rhetoric has fueled protests from human rights groups and the Commission on Human Rights, which denounced the mayor for his statement and urged him to ‘operate within the rule of law,’” HRW said.
To make it worse, the pattern of death squads targeting criminals has reached other cities in Mindanao and Visayas, HRW said.
“United States State Department cables released by WikiLeaks in 2011 noted the apparent rise of municipal government-sanctioned death squads in cities including Cebu City, Toledo, and Carcar,” HRW said.
In 2014, HRW released a comprehensive report about the Tagum Death Squad, which included a video of the narratives of a former hit man divulging their operations and the involvements of former Tagum City mayor Rey Uy.
“A Department of Justice investigation resulted in charges filed against Tagum City’s former Mayor Rey Uy and 29 other local and police officials for their alleged role in summary killings there. But Philippine authorities have not taken action against other death squad operations,” HRW said.
“The long official tolerance of Duterte’s advocacy of summary killings as effective crime-fighting strategy needs to stop. The government should send an unambiguous message to Duterte and other officials that support for extrajudicial killings results in an investigation–not in speaking tours,” Kine added.
Maintaining his tradition of making a firm stand coupled by his harsh tongue, Duterte now has a challenge for human rights groups that are criticizing Davao City and his leadership style.
“To all the bleeding hearts of US-based crime watch: You want a taste of justice, my style? Come to Davao City Philippines, and do drugs in my city. I will execute you in public. And finally, you SOB’s, I offer no excuses nor do I apologize. So be it,” Duterte said.
Netizens, meanwhile, have taken up the cudgel for Duterte and urged human rights group to leave the mayor alone.
Reacting to the Inquirer story on the HRW call for the government to investigate Duterte, reader Rommel Senga said: “The CHR should focus its energy and resources for the benefit of the taxpaying and peace loving citizens of this country. Criminal minds have long discarded the idea of respecting the law and that alone should be enough reason for the law to be tough on them. Give them due process but that should be just about it. Leave Duterte alone….The man is doing us a favor actually.”
“This world will never be safe as long as (these) human rights group is there to protect and side with criminals, murderers, rapists, drug pushers, smugglers, robbers, thieves. These criminals should not have human rights. What about the victims? The ordinary decent citizens, don’t they have human rights, too? Protection from destructive and evil people?” Sans Tecav posted.
Other readers, however, sided with the HRW.
“We should be glad the HRW has always been there… in the time of Marcos, Aquino up until now and tomorrow. We ought to be grateful that we have a group that represents a more civilized, cultured, educated mind that values life and the way life should be treated within an imperfect society, under a flawed governance and with an unjust justice system. HRW has a profound sense of peace and order, not through fear and barrel of a gun, not the peace of the graveyard nor an order in the cemetery, but a caring, compassionate people who know the means of rehabilitating the misfits of society,” reader “Ian” wrote. With a report from Allan Nawal
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