The president of the Philippines may face an investigation for murder in the wake of a confession at a public forum last week.
The Philippines Commission on Human Rights announced Wednesday that it will look into President Rodrigo Duterte’s claims that he personally killed criminals when he served as mayor in Davao, reports BBC.
“In Davao I used to do it personally, just to show to the guys (police) that if I can do it, why can’t you,” Duterte revealed in a public speech at the presidential palace Dec. 12. “I’d go around in Davao with a motorcycle, and I would just patrol the streets, looking for trouble. I was really looking for a confrontation so I could kill.”
The president told BBC that he shot and killed at least three men.
“I killed about three of them… I don’t know how many bullets from my gun went inside their bodies. It happened and I cannot lie about it,” Duterte told reporters.
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said Tuesday that Duterte’s actions “clearly constitute murder.”
“Law enforcement agencies… must investigate as a matter of course any information that suggests that a crime may have been committed with the view to ensuring that perpetrators are ultimately held accountable should the evidence warrant it,” Jose Gascon, head of the Philippines Commission on Human Rights, said Wednesday.
Some local lawmakers argue that Duterte’s murder confession justifies impeachment.
“That is betrayal of public trust and that constitutes high crimes because mass murders certainly fall into the category of high crimes. And high crimes is a ground for impeachment under the constitution,” Philippine Senator Leila de Lima, a fierce critic who openly opposes the president and his drug war, told CNN Dec. 15.
De Lima tried to investigate Duterte’s role in the extrajudicial killing in the ongoing drug war in September; however, she was removed from her position as chair of the investigative committee and accused of corruption.
She received death threats and was forced to flee her home.
The government has now filed criminal charges against De Lima for alleged involvement in the domestic drug trade. She told BBC that she fears for her life but will not be silenced.
While some observers find the president’s statements shocking, others have dismissed Duterte’s claims, assuming them to be exaggerations.
“The President always speaks in hyperbole, always exaggerated just to put his message across,” Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II told reporters.
Exaggeration or not, wherever Duterte goes, death seems to follow.
There are strong suspicions that as mayor, Duterte ran death squads responsible for the murder of over 1,000 people. Since he took office six months ago, an estimated 6,000 people have been killed in a brutal shoot-to-kill drug war criticized by the Western democracies, the United Nations, and human rights organizations.
In addition to investigating Duterte’s murders, the local human rights commission intends to look into allegations concerning Duterte’s infamous death squads.
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