VICE Mayor Rodrigo Duterte lashed out at allegations connecting him to the so-called Davao Death Squad (DDS) following a television report last July 6 on the study made by the independent commission created to disarm private armies.

The commission specifically emphasized that Duterte and Tagum City Mayor Rey Uy have private armies of their own out of more than 117 private armies they monitored with around 5,000 members in the entire country.

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During the live airing of Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa Friday, Duterte said "it's all there to see" and that the best people to ask whether the city is home to a group of criminal-slayers are the residents of the city.

Duterte said "it's up to the people of Davao" to say whether there really is an alleged private army in the city.

"It's there for all to see. Ang katawhan sa Dabaw lang bahala ana. Kamong taga-Dabaw mudaog kaha ko kung naa koy private army? Mudaog kaha ko ug mayorya ug 300,000 kung nag binuang ra ko diri sa Dabaw?" Duterte said at the City Council conference room.

The city-paid show was held at 1 p.m. before the City Council session now scheduled at 2 p.m.

Commission against Private Armies (Capa) member ret. military Lieutenant General Edilberto Adan was interviewed by TV reporter Henry Umaga Diaz wherein Adan said they monitored more than 100 private armies through cooperation with the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Adan said the area with the most number of private armies are in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao and are also present in Ilocos Region, Cagayan, Central and Southern Luzon, Masbate other areas in Mindanao.

"We found out that there are some police officers, some police personnel, who are under the influence of their political patrons meaning sinusunod nila ang kung ano ang dapat gawin na kung minsan naman ay labag na sa election code," Adan said.

Case against cops dismissed

Duterte raised in his argument regarding nullification of suspension order of several police officers in the city for failing to curb summary executions in the city.

In a 12-page decision penned by Associate Justice Mario Lopez, the CA's Former Special 16th Division granted the petition filed by the police officers who had been suspended on the mere basis of a "raw" crime statistics made by a fact-finding team of the Ombudsman.

"That Commission is rotten, their minds are rotten. What was charged against the police were also the allegations made against me. See what happened? Those policemen were suspended for nothing? It does not mean that when a person dies in your area it's your mistake, would you be happy being accused of that? The statistics was on their side" Duterte said in vernacular.

The appellate court found grave abuse of discretion on the part of the Ombudsman in issuing its January 11 resolution without a clear set of standard of efficiency against which actual performance of government servants must be rated.

The appellate court also said that the Ombudsman failed to specifically indicate what action the police officers should have taken, or did not take, in connection with the summary executions.

The CA further noted that the Davao City Police Office was even recognized as the Best City Police in the entire country in 2008, which contradicts the claim of negligence by the Ombudsman.

As de Lima is now appointed as the Department of Justice Secretary and speculations arise that she will come back strong on the allegations, the vice mayor said is "ready to face her anytime."

"'Di atobangon nako. Walay problema. Ako basta I said I can face her anytime, wala nay problema diha (Then I will face her. No problem. I have said it before, I can face her anytime there's no problem with that)," Duterte said.

Attack against the family name

More retaliation on the allegation of heading a private army, however, came from City Councilor Paolo Duterte later during session who delivered an address denying the existence of a vigilante group.

Councilor Duterte specifically lashed at the national TV report, which placed the Dutertes on the spotlight.

He emphasized that there is no need for private armies in the city because "this is a peace loving city."

"A prominent media organization again brought before their news about the Duterte's alleged maintaining of private armies and its involvement and link with the Davao Death Squad or commonly known as DDS. These issues are not of novelty values. These have been raised several times and to date, nothing has been proven to indeed charge us of the same," said Duterte, chair of the Association of Barangay Captains.

"The linking of our name to Davao Death Squad or to be branded as coddlers of labeled criminals is apparently absurd and ridiculous," he said.

"Maluoy mo sa mga bata. Dili lamang kami nga naa sa politika and mga Duterte. Apil ang among mga anak. (Have pity on the children. It's not just us who are in politics bear the Duterte's name but also our children.) Such callous and heartless pronouncements will instigate stigma and labelling to my entire family...There is no summary killing and there is no DDS," the councilor added.

Still, he insisted that the reason Davao has boomed in the years when his father was administering it, it's because of the government's strong stand against criminals.

"Dabawenyos is not a place for criminals. Only law-abiding people are welcomed to stay and continue growing with the resort of the Dabawenyos. I urge the media to be more conscientious in their field of work. That the highest standards of responsible journalism shall be strongly observed at all times," Duterte said. (Jade C. Zaldivar with Sunnex)