Duterte: 'Thousands' killed in Davao City drug war
MANILA, Philippines – Responding to the allegations of another confessed Davao Death Squad member that he masterminded killings in Davao City, President Rodrigo Duterte said "thousands" were killed in his two-decade drug war in his home city.
Duterte addressed the allegations of retired Senior Police Officer 3 Arturo Lascañas that the President, when he was Davao City mayor, ordered criminals in his city killed through the Davao Death Squad.
"The witness said, ‘Killed by the hundreds.’ That’s right. That is true," Duterte said in a mix of Bisaya, Tagalog, and English in an event in Davao del Norte on Friday, February 24. (READ: SPO3 Arthur Lascañas: 'Blind obedience' ends now)
"In the 23 years I was mayor, I ran after drugs. It should have reached the thousands, but he said only hundreds. Why would I deny that?" he added.
Duterte was speaking at the turn-over of a drug rehabilitation facility from the Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI), a group of Filipino-Chinese businessmen who have been supportive of his administration.
Duterte, however, did not outrightly admit being behind extrajudicial killings. He stuck to his usual line that he will only take full responsibility for killings by military or police in legitimate operations against drug pushers and drug lords.
"I am not denying my liability, if there is any, for those military and police who went out to arrest criminals and in the process killed a criminal because they had to defend their lives. I assume full responsibility for their actions," said the President.
He reiterated his claim that extrajudicial killings, even in Davao City when he was mayor, was due to "rivalries" between criminal and drug syndicates.
For the deaths in legitimate operations, Duterte said he did not mind going to jail. "Let it be me. Correct. No problem if I go to prison," he said.
Four days ago, Lascañas claimed that Duterte ordered the murder of journalist Jun Pala and religious leader Jun Barsabal, among others. (READ: TIMELINE: Witness lists killings allegedly 'ordered' by Duterte)
He corroborated claims of another confessed hitman, Edgar Matobato, that the Davao Death Squad is real and that Duterte, when he was mayor, paid its members to kill.
The Palace has dismissed Lascañas' accusations as "political drama" meant to bring down the Duterte administration, but the Senate is expected to reopen its investigation into the Davao Death Squad based on the new revelations. – Rappler.com