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Summary of Davao Death Squad Reports

May 6, 2011 ·  , Dow Jones Reuters, 27 May 2002

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Gun-wielding politicians told to stay away from Davao City, or engage mayor in gunfight.
By Hernani P. de Leon. _535 words _27 May 2002_BusinessWorld_12 _English_(c) 2002 Business World Publishing Corporation.

………..Meanwhile, Mr. Duterte said many personalities he had identified last year as involved in illegal drugs have already died. “Some were killed the day after I read the names on television and there’s one who accidentally killed himself.” He said the campaign against illegal drugs would now be directed at big-time local distributors and suppliers from other regions that come here regularly.

Saying he was never in favor of the summary executions of criminals done by the dreaded Davao Death Squad (DDS), Mr. Duterte said he’ll support proposals that the regional police set up an investigating body to probe the vigilante killings and to track down the DDS.

“I have tried to look into this problem and I can’t find a trace that would lead me to the DDS,” he said.

In the past, the DDS was linked to Mr. Duterte who seems to favor a heavy-handed law enforcement style for this city. DDS is notorious for the summary executions of drug dealers and thieves in this city during the last five years. ………

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© 2002 Dow Jones Reuters Business Interactive LLC (trading as Factiva). All rights reserved.

Headline: Vigilante killings
Source: Anthony S. Allada, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 17th May 2002.
Substance: After at least two more vigilante killings of suspected criminals last week Chief Supt.. Eduardo Matillano, Southern Mindanao police chief, has revived Task Force Vigilance. Matillano said he has already ordered task force commander Senior Supt.. Charlemagne Alejandrino to look into the recent killings. The article says, “The task force was created last year to look into reports that Mayor Rodrigo Duterte was behind the operation of the Davao Death Squad.”

Headline: Police agree to a probe into youth killings
Source: Manuel Cayon, Today, 16th May 2002. Substance: The city police command in Davao City said it was willing to be called anew to a city council inquiry on the resurgence of killings of teenagers and persons believed to be leaders or initiators of bloody riots in the city.

The Davao police were called last year to explain the status of their investigation into the killings of persons believed involved in the illegal drugs trade. Councillor Angela Librado, however, criticized the police report saying that it looked like a tally of police blotters than a work of investigation. He said they were asked to submit the findings of its investigation rather than just detail the circumstances leading to the killings. This year the killings of teenagers followed after city mayor Rodrigo Duterte ordered a crackdown on leaders of gangs involved in violent incidents.

Headline: Commission on Human Rights dares local executives to stop vigilante killings
Source: Philippines Government Information Agency, 3rd May 2002.
Location: http://www.pia.ops.gov.ph
Substance: Human Rights Commissioner Dominador Calamba II has
challenged local executives to put a stop to vigilante killings in Davao City, saying these are blatant human rights violations. He indicated that local executives and the police knew the criminals but were “seemingly tolerating” them. “It’s impossible they don’t know what’s happenning”, he added.

Calamba also said that authorities probably have information on the vigilantes but cannot build a case that can stand up in court as no witness will surface to testify in court. Calamba called on regional police director Chief supt. Eduardo Matillano to present the results of the investigation by the task force he created to look into the identities of the criminals in the cities of Davao, Digos and Tagum. Kabiba Alliance for Children’s Concerns advocacy officer Ariel Balofinos said 40 incidents of vigilante killing of children and youth have been monitored since 1999.

Headline: Bike-riding men kill two minors
Source: Jeff Tupas, Sunstar Davao, 9 April 2002.
Substance: Two minors were shot dead by members of the Davao Death
Squad in Barrio Obrero, Davao City on April 6. Police said Obet Lorejo, 17, Ryan Pilay, 16, and another companion were sitting on a ?tricycle” just after 9pm when two suspects approached them and fired at them. Lorejo died on the spot, while Pilay managed to run together with his unidentified companion. However the suspects who were riding a motorcycle caught up with them. Pilay was found dead at 6am the following day while his companion was not located. Reports said the suspects’ real target could be Pilay and his companion, not Lorejo. According to Sta. Ana Police Precinct Commander Fe Basan, Pilay is a known akyat-bahay gang member.

Also, Ronnel Benitez, 30, died after he was attacked by unidentified suspects at the corner of Bonifacio and C.M. Recto Sts. last April 5. San Pedro Police Precinct Chief Leonardo Almirante Felonia said the victim had been in and out of jail for his alleged involvement in robbery and drug peddling.

Fifteen-year-old Anthony Quinensao and 22-year-old Jason Libatan were killed in separate incidents in the city last April 4.

Headline: Church denounces spate of killings
Source: Sunstar Davao, 9 April 2002
Substance: Redemptorist Parish Priest Fr. John Purcell lamented in his
homily the death of 15-year-old Anthony Quinensao who was killed April 4. Quinensao was attending a dance party in Spring Valley at around 9pm when three unidentified motorcycle-riding gunmen fired at him. He succumbed to gunshot wounds in the head and body and died minutes after he was brought to the Davao Medical Center. It was learned that the victim was helping out his family financially by working with his father in construction projects. Fr. Purcell said the failure of the city to halt the vigilante killings is because the ?government is part of the problem?.

Jayson Libatan, 22, a suspected drug pusher and snatcher was shot dead in Barangay 39-D, Davao City. He succumbed to a fatal wound in the head and was declared dead on arrival at the Ricardo Limso Medical Center. The lone suspect was also riding a motorcycle.

PNP Regional Director Chief Supt.. Eduardo Matillano created Task Force Vigilance late last year to investigate the killings of the vigilantes. The task force even probed the alleged links of the death squads with Davao City Mayor Duterte but it found no material connecting the two. In an interview with Carolyn Arguillas of MindaNews last November, the mayor was quoted saying, ?I would rather see criminals dead than innocent victims die, being killed senselessly?.

Davao City Archbishop Fernando Capalla wrote a pastoral letter in November 2001 titled? Thou Shall Not Kill?. It was read in all the parishes of the archdiocese November 25.

Headline: Drug killings won’t stop as 3 more slain in Digos
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer Information Service. Anthony Allada. April 08 2002
Location: http://www.inq7.net/reg/2002/apr/08/text/reg_12-1-p.htm
Substance: Three more people were gunned down by motorcycle-riding
assassins in Divos City last week. On Thursday Romy Cueme was gunned down by two motorcycle-riding suspects. Four hours later Rene Baltazar, one of the reported big-time drug pushers in Davao del Sur, was shot dead by several gunmen. On Monday Abdul Naser Diamas was also killed by motorcycling gunmen.

The latest figures in drug related killings have reached 30 since last year, but no suspect has ever been arrested. Supt.. Samuel Navajo, Davao del Sur police director, said witnesses are either unwilling to testify or are too scared to cooperate with investigators.

Headline: Death squad ends vacation, kills 3
Source: Anthony Allada, Philippine Daily Inquirer Mindanao Bureau, 13 March 2002
Substance: Three suspected drug pushers, Sonny Anito, Reynante Cansancio,
and Bernardo Solaña, were killed by the Digos Death Squad recently. Anito is a convicted drug pusher who was out on probation on theft charges. He died on the spot when he was gunned down March 10. Two hours before Anito was shot to death, Faustino Villegas, an official of Barangay San Miguel, killed Cansancio after the latter allegedly ignored his plea to stop peddling shabu. Solaña was killed on March 9 by one of six motorcycle-riding gunmen, who were all wearing camouflage uniforms, with .45 cal. pistol.

Headline: Operations in Davao crime havens confirmed by cops
Source: Manuel Cayon,Today, 13 March 2002.
Substance: Police officials in Davao City confirmed they have conducted overt and covert operations in the city’s known hotbeds of crime after Mayor Rodrigo Duterte warned that he may employ a martial-law type operation on Isla Verde. City Police Director Wilfredo Garcia identified Isla Verde as ?one of the most problematic areas in the city.? He said the police has been around the place, conducting intelligence work although his command has also put up two outposts. He further added that another big headache for the city’s officials is juvenile delinquency that has become synonymous with drugs, particularly rugby-sniffing.

Headline: Davao Death Squads kills trader
Source: M. Cayon, Today and Anthony Allada, Phil. Daily Inquirer, 30 January 2002
Substance: Suspected members of the Davao Death Squad killed a trader and wounded his wife inside their store in Bansalan, Davao del Sur last January 26. The slain businessman was once arrested for possession of illegal drugs. Police identified the victim as Henry Leynes, 34, a store owner and his injured wife as Geraldine. The two gunmen on board a motorcycle stopped at their store in Poblacion Uno in Bansalan and ordered beer. When the couple went out of their room to help serve the customers, the assailants drew out their guns and fired at them. The husband sustained two gunshot wounds in the stomach and died at the Pimentel medical Clinic.

Source: Dow Jones Reuters, 25 Januray 2002
WEEKENDER – Natural, man-made calamities changing island’s prospects.
By Carmelito Q. Francisco. _1,117 words _25 January 2002_BusinessWorld_26 _English_(c) 2002 Business World Publishing Corporation.

DAVAO CITY –

……In a nutshell, members of the business sector still believe the region will eventually have a better performance despite current problems.

Joji Ilagan-Bian, Mindanao Business Council (MBC) chairperson, said recent events would not have much effect on the possible entry of business and the performance of agriculture. This is because business and government leaders feel Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte, head of the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC), is known to have firm resolve in solving criminality.

A few weeks after he assumed the mayorship last July 1, Mr. Duterte vowed to eradicate illegal drug activities in the city by November. The Davao Death Squad (DDS), a shadowy vigilante group, soon took over and executed dozens of suspected drug dealers whose names were in the police’ anti-narcotics unit’s list. Despite speculations of his direct support to the DDS, the mayor continued to deny his hand in the formation and existence of the group.

The mayor has earned praises not just from the private sector, but also from other government officials, for his heavy-handed treatment of suspected criminals. Lawyer Jesus Ayala, chairman of the regional development council (RDC), said investors appreciate Mr. Duterte’s way of dealing with the criminals. Thus, prospects are good this year provided peace and order remains stable in the region.

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© 2002 Dow Jones Reuters Business Interactive LLC (trading as Factiva). All rights reserved.

Headline: “Davao Death Squad” kills 4 alleged drug dealers
Source: Anthony Allada, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 23rd January 2002.
Location: http://www.inq7/net/brk/2002/jan/23/text/brkoth_9-1-p.htm
Substance: The Davao Death Squad allegedly responsible for killing at least a hundred suspected criminals gunned down at least four more persons in a span of three days in the Davao area. Killed were Alexander Magnacaw of Digos City, Percy Medina of Hagenoy, Davao del Sur, and a certain Edilberto Kabuting. An unidentified body was also found in a grassy area in a Davao del Sur village. Three others were wounded in the attacks. The report added the group is composed mostly of New People’s Army partisans and some policemen engaged in vigilante-style killings supposedly aimed at restoring law and order in the city.

Headline: Bishop demands probe of Surigao Sur killings
Source: Franklin Caliguid and Anthony Allada, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 17 January 2002
Location: http://www.inq7.net/reg/2002/jan/17/text/reg_6-1-p.htm
Substance: Bishop Nerio Ochimar of the Archdiocese of Tandag asked the police to investigate those who were behind the summary executions of suspected drug pushers and users in Suriagao del Sur, south of Manila. This anti-drug vigilante group have shot and killed at least ten people since August last year, the latest of whom was a suspected pusher gunned down in Tandag on January 8, 2002. Police provincial director Edgar Deramas said there was no vigilante group operating in the province but he admitted that the police had no idea as to the identities of the killers. He said that the executions could be part of a ?cleansing process? by a local drug syndicate while a local government official said he suspected that top local officials were behind the killings.

Source: Dow Jones Reuters, 14 January 2002
Let’s talk or kill each other, Duterte tells kidnappers.

By Hernani P. de Leon. _490 words _14 January 2002_BusinessWorld_12 _English_(c) 2002 Business World Publishing Corporation.

DAVAO CITY – War has been declared against kidnappers in Southern Mindanao.

In his Sunday morning television program, Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte read out the names of suspected kidnappers living in this city and in nearby provinces, including those in areas controlled by Moro rebel groups.

After reading the names, Mr. Duterte addressed the suspects, saying “I’m asking you to come out and choose between two options; let’s talk or let’s kill each other.”

“I’m going inside the rebel camps where these suspects are allegedly being protected and I’m ready to kill or be killed,” said Mr. Duterte in the vernacular.

“I have gone around and I know who your relatives are and where they live, so, that makes us even,” he said……

…..Supporters of Mr. Duterte have claimed that criminals would not dare operate in this city after a campaign against illegal drugs succeeded in driving drug lords and pushers out of the city. Dozens of drug suspects were executed, vigilante-style, by a group known as the Davao Death Squad (DDS), which has been associated with Mr. Duterte. The mayor, however, denied he had anything to do with DDS and the executions.

Two weeks ago, the daughter of a prominent businessman in this city was abducted and held for several days before she was rescued.

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© 2002 Dow Jones Reuters Business Interactive LLC (trading as Factiva). All rights reserved.

Headline: Drug suspects ?falling like bowling pins”
Source: Anthony Allada and Allan Nawal, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 5 December 2001
Location: http:www.inq7.net/reg/2001/dec/04/text/reg_2-1-p.html
Substance: The Digos Death Squad killed five suspected drug pushers
recently, including Berna Sanguile who is believed to be one of the biggest retailers of shabu here in Digos City. Police reports show that after killing Sanguile, the suspects tried to slash the victim’s ear, apparently as ?proof of service? as what they did to Fernando Rubia, but they were prevented by the crowd who started to gather around the crime scene.

Source: Dow Jones Reuters, 5 December 2001
Vigilante killings spread.

372 words _5 December 2001_BusinessWorld_12 _English_(c) 2001 Business World Publishing Corporation.

DAVAO CITY – Vigilante-style execution, introduced here by the Davao Death Squad (DDS) in the mid-’80s, is being replicated in nearby urban centers.

Regional police authorities confirmed that at least four assassinations in Digos City, Davao del Sur, during the last two weeks could be the work of a vigilante death squad.

“These are the reports we receive from the field and from what local journalists claim,” a police officer said.

The latest killings occurred last Saturday in Digos City when two motorcycle-riding men shot two suspected drug pushers in two separate incidents. The Digos police confirmed the victims were on their watch list of suspected drug pushers.

The DDS started killing criminals – with drug pushers on top of the list – in this city in the mid-’80s during the third and last term of mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

In the May elections, Mr. Duterte got the city’s top post back. Among his first statements was to warn criminals to leave the city before the end of the year or “face the consequence.” Soon enough, a new wave of vigilante killings began. It is estimated that in one month, as many as 15 victims fell to the DDS’ bullets.

Shopowners claim the number of common crimes, such as burglary and snatching, has been reduced. Drug use has declined significantly, school authorities said. Crime statistics fell by as much as 50%, local police claimed…..

…The DDS was initially linked to Mr. Duterte. Three years ago, civil society leaders said the police force was involved. Recently, speculations in local media said business leaders are supporting the group.

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© 2002 Dow Jones Reuters Business Interactive LLC (trading as Factiva). All rights reserved.

Headline: Policemen, rebel returnees among members of Davao Death Squad
Source: MindaNews. Jowel F. Canuday 21st November 2001
Location: http://www.cyberdyaryo.com/features/f2001_1121_04.htm
Substance: Policemen and rebel returness are among the members of the dreaded Davao Death Squad(DDS), the group suspected of summarily executing at least 150 drug pushers and petty criminals in Davao since 1995, the regional chief of the Philippine National Police here said. Chief Supt. Eduardo Matillano, Philippine National Police regional chief in Davao said initial reports made by Task Force Vigilance, which he created in October to investigate the killings, established the involvement of some policemen and former members of the New People’s Army(NPA) urban partisan unit in the executions.
Matillano said DDS members do the killing for the money, adding that a patron pays each member of the hit squad at least P5,000(100 U.S $) for every drug pusher or petty criminal killed. Matillano declined to name the suspected patron of the death squads. Sr. Supt. Charlemagne Alejandro, chief of the directorial staff of the PNP regional headquarters and head of the task force, said earlier that their investigation would include a look into allegations of involvement by Mayor Rodrigo Duterte in the DDS. Matillano, however, said Alejandrino’s task force has not established any such link, based on the initial results of their investigation. Duterte has repeatedly denied the existence of the Death Squad.

A ranking police officer formerly assigned to the anti-narcotics unit here said it is highly possible that Matillano had knowledge on the composition, plans and operations of the DDS. The officer noted that the vigilante killings stopped after Matillano declared he would put an end to it. Matillano said he had no knowledge about the DDS.

Last month, the vigilantes killed 17 suspected drug pushers and petty criminals. The killings temporarily stopped but resumed this week with the slaying of two suspected drug pushers. Matillano said they are having difficulty building cases against suspects as no witnesses would want to come forward and face the courts due to fear.

And suspicions of official involvement in the vigilante killings notwithstanding, Matillano still attributed the sharp decline of drug-related killings and the numbers of drug pushers in the city to the vigilante killings. He said based on their records, the number of active drug pushers has dropped by about 50 percent.

But the Free Legal Assistance Group, an organisation of human rights advocates, challenged the police to exercise political will in resolving the killings.

Headline: Anti-drug vigilante group strikes in Digos
Source: Anthony Allada, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 7 November 2001
Location: http://www.inq7.net/reg/2001/nov/07/text/reg_1-1-p.htm
Substance: Three suspected pushers including a woman, were killed by motorcycle-riding hit men in Digos City. The latest target, Virgilio Erasmo, survived after he sensed the threat to his life and managed to run for safety. Digos City Vice Mayor condemned the killings saying that it is inhuman to cut short the lives of suspected drug pushers without due process of law. He also denied rumors that Mayor Arsenio Latasa is protecting the DDS. Suspicion about Latasa’s involvement with the DDS first came about in May when he said he welcomes the vigilantes, if they ever existed.

Headline: Davao killings alarm lawyers
Source: Anthony Allada, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 29 October 2001
Location: http://www.inq7.net/reg/2001/oct/29/text/reg_2-1-p.htm
Substance: The Integrated Bar of the Philippines Davao Chapter expressed alarm over the spate of vigilante-related deaths of suspected drug dealers and cellular phone snatchers in the city. In their three-page resolution, the lawyers said the killings deprive the suspects due process that is guaranteed by the constitution as a ?sacred and inviolable right?. They also assailed the police for their apparent lack of interest in solving the killings, so much so that not one case has been solved and the suspects remain unidentified and are free roaming the streets.

Source: Dow Jones Reuters, 29 October 2001
Davao mayor pledges improved business climate as killings continue.
444 words _29 October 2001_BusinessWorld_11 _English_(c) 2001 Business World Publishing Corporation.

DAVAO CITY – The city government expects business to improve next year after it has cleaned the city of drugs and crime.

“With a better peace and order situation next year, we would be enjoying improved economic condition,” mayor Rodrigo Duterte told local media over the weekend…..

….Peace and order has been an important variable in Mindanao’s economic development. Local businessmen claim the investment climate in this city improved significantly when the security situation stabilized during Mr. Duterte’s term in the mid-’90s. Ironically, however, a shadowy group of vigilantes referred to as the Davao Death Squad (DDS) started killing drug dealers and other criminals during those years.

Since assuming the city’s top post in July, Mr. Duterte has warned drug dealers and thieves in the city to leave by the end of December or “face the consequence.” Summary executions intensified almost immediately after Mr. Duterte issued the warnings. Last week, he advanced the deadline he gave the criminals to the end of November even as he denied any involvement with the DDS.

During the last 30 days, at least 15 individuals were executed by DDS, with most of the victims having committed drug-related offenses. Recent reports by local media said the DDS could be unemployed rebel returnees given temporary jobs to clean the city of criminals. Another theory is that some Chinese-Filipino businessmen are supporting the group. Until now, however, the local police are yet to apprehend a DDS member.

Two Sundays ago, Mr. Duterte disclosed on television the names of 500 individuals who could “help him” in his administration’s anti-drug campaign. The names were culled from records of the regional anti-narcotics unit. Ironically, it includes more than 20 police officers. Hours after Mr. Duterte’s disclosure, some of those in the list were killed, again reportedly by the DDS.

Mr. Duterte, meanwhile, recently thanked investors in the city led by SM Prime Holdings, Inc. which he said would provide about 5,000 new jobs.

SM Prime will open a shopping mall, the first in Mindanao, on the third week of November with roughly 240 new shops.
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Headline: Death in Davao
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer, 27th October 2001, Editorial.
Location: http://www.inq7.net/opi/2001/oct/28/text/opi_editorial-1-p.htm
Substance: Last Wednesday a teenager playing cards in Davao City was shot dead by motorcycle-riding gunmen of the Davao Death Squad. The 17 year old was a suspected drug pusher. Since September 20th 2001 15 suspected drug pushers have been killed in a similar fashion.

Davao’s tough talking mayor, Rodrigo Duterte, is believed by many in the city to have implicitly sanctioned the killings. He has however said several times that he condemns the killings, and that the drug problem must be solved within the bounds of the law. But at the same time he has vowed to solve the problem by December of this year, and he has used his influential radio program to name people either proven or suspected to be drug pushers or peddlers.

The killing spree has prompted the city council to issue a resolution calling on the Commission on Human Rights, the local police and the National Bureau of Investigation to investigate the matter immediately. But local police officials have already telegraphed their answers. They have unfailingly identified all the victims as suspected pushers or as persons on their watch list. And they have also said they couldn’t be sure if there really was such a thing as the Davao Death Squad.

Headline: Davao Death Squad executes 2 teeners
Source: The Manila Times, Jeannette Andrade
Location:
www.manilatimes.net/national/2001/sept/23/provincial/20010923pro1.html

Substance: Vigilante group Davao Death Squad(DDS), allegedly responsible for killing at least a hundred suspected criminals, struck anew in Davao City summarily executing two teenagers allegedly involved in cellphone snatching. The victims were 18 year old Ryan Martinito and 19 year old P.J Taporco. The Philippine National Police(PNP) said the vigilante group, which was activated in the 1990s, has been blamed for the deaths of people with links to criminal activities ranging from drug trafficking, robbery/hold-up, to kidnapping. The Davao City Police is conducting follow-up operations against the suspects.

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