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  World   Asia  23 Dec 2016  Rights watchdog eyes slayer Rodrigo Duterte

Rights watchdog eyes slayer Rodrigo Duterte

Published : Dec 23, 2016, 2:04 am IST
Updated : Dec 23, 2016, 6:42 am IST

Panel says team formed to probe President’s admission of killing three criminals.

A file photo shows Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte posing for a selfie during a meeting with the Filipino community in Singapore. (Photo: AFP)
 A file photo shows Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte posing for a selfie during a meeting with the Filipino community in Singapore. (Photo: AFP)

Manila: The Philippines independent human rights watchdog said on Thursday it will investigate President Rodrigo Duterte’s admission he killed three criminals years ago, after the United Nation’s rights chief called for a murder probe.

Mr Duterte, who is waging an anti-drugs war that has left thousands dead, said last week that he helped police kill three suspected kidnappers early in the first of his several terms as mayor of the southern city of Davao.

UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein had said on Tuesday that Mr Duterte’s killings, by his own admission, “clearly constitute murder” and Philippine judicial authorities must launch an investigation. Commission on Human Rights chief Jose Gascon said he has formed a team of investigators to look into the matter, even as Mr Duterte’s spokesman Ernesto Abella dismissed the UN call as mere “opinion”.

“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,” Mr Gascon said in a statement.

The commission is an independent government body that prosecutes law enforcers or other officials who commit torture, extra-judicial killings or violate Filipinos’ constitutional rights.

The commission had investigated then Davao mayor Mr Duterte over allegations he ran death squads that killed more than a thousand petty criminals there.

Mr Duterte has variously denied or confirmed the allegations. The commission did not file any criminal charges after completing its inquiry. Mr Gascon said his agency has “reconstituted a team to further investigate (Davao death squads) to look into the new revelations and public admissions that may shed light on our previous findings.”

“The team will look into any matter that may further shed light on the killings in Davao that was the subject matter of our previous investigation.”

Mr Duterte easily won presidential elections in May largely on a promise to eradicate illegal drugs in society by launching an unprecedented campaign in which tens of thousands of people would be killed.

Tags: rodrigo duterte, investigation, criminals
Location: Philippines, National Capital Reg, Manila