When they came for drug addicts
I remained silent,
I wasn't a drug addict.
When they came for street children
I remained silent
I wasn't a street kid.MINORS ARE TARGET, TOO: Gunmen shot dead this boy in a crowded street in Davao City, Southern Philippines. Like many other dozens of killings perpetrated by gunmen riding on motorcycle, this boy’s murder too, was on pretext he had been involved in criminal activity.
When they killed the gang suspects
I remained silent
I felt safer.
When they became bolder and bolder
I remained silent
I wasn't their political opponent.
When they killed innocent people
I remained silent,
I wasn't from Davao.From HumanRights Watch
"You can die anytime!"
At around 6 p.m. on July 17, 2008, 20-year-old Jaypee Larosa left his home in Lanang, a quiet residential neighborhood in Davao City, to go to a nearby Internet cafe. An hour later his family heard six successive gunshots. A neighbor rushed into their house to say one of their sons had been shot in front of the café. Jaypee was taken to a hospital, but was declared dead on arrival.
Eyewitnesses said that Larosa had been shot by three men in dark jackets who had arrived on a motorcycle. After they shot him, one of them removed the baseball cap Larosa was wearing and said, “Son of a bitch. This is not the one,” and they immediately left the scene. It appears that the assailants were seeking to kill another man, a suspected robber. No one has been arrested for Larosa’s murder. His family is unaware of the police having taken any meaningful action in the case.
Jaypee Larosa is just one of hundreds of victims of unresolved targeted killings committed over the past decade in Davao City and elsewhere in the Philippines. Dozens of family members have described to Human Rights Watch the murder of their loved ones, all killed in similar fashion.
Most victims are alleged drug dealers, petty criminals, and street children, some of whom are members of street gangs. Impunity for such crimes is nearly total—few such cases have been seriously investigated by the police, let alone prosecuted.
Although reports of targeted killings in the Philippines, particularly in Mindanao, are not new, the number of victims has seen a steady rise over many years. In Davao City, the number has risen from two in 1998 to 98 in 2003 to 124 in 2008. In 2009, 33 killings were reported in January alone. In recent years the geographical scope of such killings has expanded far beyond Davao City and other cities on the southern island of Mindanao to Cebu City, the Philippines’ second largest metropolis. An already serious problem is becoming much worse.
This report provides an anatomy of death squad operations. It is based on our investigations of 28 killings, 18 of which took place in 2007 and 2008. The victims include children as young as 14. In researching this report, we found evidence of complicity and at times direct involvement of government officials and members of the police in killings by the so-called Davao Death Squad (DDS). We obtained detailed and consistent information on the DDS from relatives and friends of death squad members with direct knowledge of death squad operations, as well as journalists, community activists, and government officials who provided detailed corroborating evidence.
According to these “insiders,” most members of the DDS are either former communist New People’s Army insurgents who surrendered to the government or young men who themselves were death squad targets and joined the group to avoid being killed. Most can make far more money with the DDS than in other available occupations. Their handlers, called amo (boss), are usually police officers or ex-police officers. They provide them with training, weapons and ammunition, motorcycles, and information on the targets. Death squad members often use .45-caliber handguns, a weapon commonly used by the police but normally prohibitively expensive for gang members and common criminals.
The insiders told Human Rights Watch that the amo obtain information about targets from police or barangay (village or city district) officials, who compile lists of targets. The amo provides members of a death squad team with as little as the name of the target, and sometimes an address and a photograph. Police stations are then notified to ensure that police officers are slow to respond, enabling the death squad members to escape the crime scene, even when they commit killings near a police station.
The consistent failure of the Philippine National Police to seriously investigate apparent targeted killings is striking. Witnesses to killings told Human Rights Watch that the police routinely arrive at the scene long after the assailants leave, even if the nearest police station is minutes away. Police often fail to collect obvious evidence such as spent bullet casings, or question witnesses or suspects, but instead pressure the families of victims to identify the killers.
Our research found that the killings follow a pattern. The assailants usually arrive in twos or threes on a motorcycle without a license plate. They wear baseball caps and buttoned shirts or jackets, apparently to conceal their weapons underneath. They shoot or, increasingly, stab their victim without warning, often in broad daylight and in presence of multiple eyewitnesses, for whom they show little regard. And as quickly as they arrive, they ride off—but almost always before the police appear.
The killings probably have not generated the public outrage that would be expected because most of the victims have been young men known in their neighborhood for involvement in small-scale drug dealing or minor crimes such as petty theft and drug use. Other victims have been gang members and street children.
Frequently, the victims had earlier been warned that their names were on a “list” of people to be killed unless they stopped engaging in criminal activities. The warnings were delivered by barangay officials, police officers, and sometimes even city government officials. In other cases, the victims were killed immediately after their release from police custody or prison, or shortly after they returned from hiding.
Human Rights Watch also investigated a number of cases in which those killed were seemingly unintended targets – victims of mistaken identity, unfortunate bystanders, and relatives and friends of the apparent target. Death squad members also have been victims of death squad killings, possibly because they “knew too much,” failed to perform their tasks, or became too exposed. Some Davao City residents also expressed the belief that some death squad members have become guns-for-hire.
Witnesses and family members who provide information to police on the killings, including the names of suspects, say that police either fail to follow up on the leads, whether they have started a criminal investigation, or if they have made any progress in their investigation. In many cases, witnesses are too afraid to come forward with information, as they believe they could become death squad targets by doing so.
The words and actions of long-time Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, some of which were quoted at the start of this report, indicate his support for targeted killings of criminal suspects. Over the years, he has made numerous statements attempting to justify the killing of suspected criminals. In 2001-2002, Duterte would announce the names of “criminals” on local television and radio—and some of those he named would later become victims of death squad killings.
Duterte claims that Davao City has achieved peace and order under his rule. But with killers roaming the streets with the comfort of state-protected impunity, the city remains a very unsafe place. Available information points to an increasing number of death squad killings, including of persons such as Jaypee Larosa who appeared to have been in the wrong place at the wrong time.
When they cursed the Pope
I remained silent,
I wasn't a Catholic!PRESIDENTIAL aspirant and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte took a swipe at the Roman Catholic Church and even cursed Pope Francis in jest.
During his proclamation as the official standard-bearer of Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Laban ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) on Monday, Duterte said that the Catholic Church should institute reforms.
“The Roman Catholic Church must reform to prevent it from being extinct,” Duterte said.
He said that he is not afraid to air his thoughts against the Church because he is not deterred from losing votes.
“Yung ibang presidente takot kasi kapag nagkampanya ang mga pari, talo na sila,” he added.
On the Church’s stance against population control, the tough-talking mayor said that the Philippines must control its population.
“I would like to challenge them. The Philippines needs to reduce its population because our resource have decreased,” Duterte said.
He even cursed at Pope Francis because of the inconvenience his visit brought to travelers last January.
He said that it took him five hours to get to the airport.
“Sabi ko, ‘Bakit?’ Sabi sarado na [ang daan]. Sabi ko, ‘Sinong darating?’ Sabi si Pope. Gusto kong tawagan, ‘Pope, p——- ka, umuwi ka na. ‘Wag ka nang bumisita dito,” he said in jest.
Not everyone was amused with the expletive spewed by Duterte against Pope Francis, though.
On his Twitter account, Palace presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said: “Mayor Duterte, you can say all you want about politicians but you don’t curse my Pope Francis! #defendthepope”
When they came for me