Philippine Daily Inquirer

Leila lauds ‘brave’ cops for speaking up on killings

- By Jeannette I. Andrade @jiandradeI­NQ

Detained Sen. Leila de Lima on Saturday renamed the so-called Davao Death Squad (DDS) to the “Presidenti­al Death Squad” even as she predicted the end of the vigilante group after policemen have been coming forward to reveal its activities.

“The secrecy that shrouds the nationwide operations of the Davao Death Squad, now transforme­d into the Presidenti­al Death Squad of President Duterte, will not last for long. Already, brave and honorable men of the PNP are breaking their silence to tell the world the truth behind the assassins and killers spawned in Davao’s underbelly,” De Lima said in a statement from the Philippine National Police custodial center in Camp Crame.

The senator issued the statement in reaction to a Reuters special report on April 18 based on an interview with members of the PNP.

“That the DDS is now embedded in the national police force as the vigilante death squad of the President is only the logical action coming out of Duterte’s policy of summary executions in Davao, and how this can be transplant­ed to the national stage once he has adopted said policy at the national level when he became President,” De Lima said.

The senator lauded the members of the PNP who were interviewe­d by the news agency for attesting to the allegation that extrajudic­ial killings are state-sponsored and are carried out on orders of the President.

“With DDS insider testimonie­s coming from former DDS members Arturo Lascañas and Edgar Matobato, as well as confirmati­on coming from PNP officials, there ought to be no longer any doubt that there ex- ists an internatio­nal criminal case for crimes against humanity against the President, his PNP Chief and commanders, and high ranking cabinet officials and congressio­nal allies,” De Lima said.

She expressed hope that the truth would come out about “how a President took hold of a nation’s consciousn­ess to promote social cleansing as a final solution to the nation’s problems, the same way Hitler hypnotized the German people.”

“Let us learn from history and know that final solutions that consist of state-sponsored murders in massive scale, even if not in Holocaust proportion­s, can only lead to the destructio­n of a nation’s social, moral and cultural fabric. Now that evidence of this continues to surface, we must ask ourselves if we want to go on supporting the carnage,” she said.

“Human rights is universal. It is not a fashion statement. Sooner or later, the judgment of history of how we treated our fellow human beings, whether we fought for them or cheered on their slaughtere­rs, will catch up with us. When that time comes, we must make sure we are standing on the side of justice,” De Lima said.

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