Human rights body to probe Duterte

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014


DAVAO -- The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) formally informed Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte that it is set to conduct "a fact-finding investigation and legal review" on a series of events said to have violated human rights policy.

In a letter addressed to Duterte dated January 10, CHR chair Loretta Ann Rosales said they have taken note not only of the "I-will-kill-you" statements of Duterte against rice smugglers, but also his "shoot-to-kill" order to police authorities against all criminals entering Davao City, specifically the shootout on the suspected kidnappers of Sally Chua, and summary killings allegedly perpetrated by the so-called "Davao Death Squad."

President Benigno Aquino III, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas, and Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Director General Alan Purisima were also furnished with the same letter.

"Accordingly, the Legal and Investigation Office (LIO) of the Commission has been directed to conduct a fact-finding investigation and legal review of this matter, with a view to the filing of charges, if warranted by facts and law, in the Office of the Ombudsman and Office of the President," the two-page letter reads.

It pertains to the statement of Duterte to rice smugglers: "I want smuggling of rice in my city stopped. But if you still do not stop your smuggling activities, I will kill you." [READ: Duterte: Rice smugglers face death]

The CHR also included the admission of Duterte on issuing a "shoot-to-kill" order to law enforcement agencies in Davao City during the shootout with suspected kidnappers on July last year.

"The use of lethal force by the police in that incident is the subject of a separate investigation," Rosales wrote.

She went on saying that Duterte may have the possible legal liability arising from the issuance of "shoot-to-kill" orders on at least two occasions, thus, "the LIO has been directed in the present case to determine whether such statements have influenced or affected the professional behavior of the local police to the extent that their use of lethal force has been or will probably be in violation of Standard No. 5 of the PNP Guidebook on Human Rights-Based Policing and other relevant laws, rules and regulations."

"Simply put, ordering law enforcement officers to 'shoot-to-kill' suspects, or threatening smugglers to leave your area out of their operations, or 'I will kill you' is a no way for a local chief executive to lead. Such comments are sending the wrong signals that invite vigilantism," Rosales added.

Lastly, the LIO, according to Rosales, will look into the progress of the case on the so-called Davao Death Squad killings as per CHR Case Resolution dated June 28, 2012, which was previously referred to the Office of the Ombudsman for proper disposition.

"We deem it important to consider these matters in recognition of your role as a local chief executive who exercises operational supervision and control of the local police force. It is a constitutional duty no one can ever cajole us into neglecting or desisting from doing," the CHR chair said.

Rosales earlier said that the statement of Duterte on rice smugglers is "unethical."

Duterte fired back and said he is ready to be sent to jail for the Filipino farmers than "losing billions and billions of pesos and reducing the Filipino farmer to poverty" due to proliferation of rice smuggling.

Duterte on Sunday also hit Justice Secretary Leila de Lima for failing to build a case against suspected smuggler David Tan and insisting that the man is a resident of Davao.

"Stop talking, and start working. Walk your talk and talk your work, hindi yung puro lang kayo for publicity. Why, you just opened your mouth for publicity," he said on his Sunday television program "Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa."

To which de Lima reacted and said: "Everybody is aware he's got a lousy mouth."

"What I can say is, do not worry, Mayor Duterte, we are working, and we do not need a reminder from you for us to do our job because we are always working," De Lima said.

Davao City Vice Mayor Paulo Duterte, for his part, defended his father and told Rosales to just do her job and “shut up.”

"Trabaho man na ni Commission on Human Rights chair Loretta Ann Rosales. Buhata imong trabaho and shut up! Do your job. Ayaw na daghang istorya. Kung mao na imong plano, buhata (It's Rosales job. Do your job and shut up!)," the vice mayor said. (Sun.Star Davao/Sunnex)

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on January 22, 2014.

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