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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

De Lima: Confidential funds financed Davao Death Squad

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Former Senator Leila de Lima said confidential funds of the Davao City local government were used to bankroll the so-called Davao Death Squad.

She said the bloody anti-drug campaign of former President Rodrigo Duterte was a replication of the DDS killings that the Commission on Human Rights extensively investigated more than a decade ago.

“Yes [DDS was financed by confidential funds]. That’s part of the testimony and revelations by Edgar Matobato and Arturo Lascañas and other resource persons that we talked to during the CHR investigation,” said De Lima, also a former chairperson of the Human Rights commission.

“The drug war killings were just a replication of the DDS killings that we investigated in 2009. It would be very useful to take a look at that and make it a reference to the findings now in whatever findings that the International Criminal Court investigation team had gathered,” she added.

De Lima has expressed willingness to help in the ICC’s probe into Duterte’s bloody war on illegal drugs should the tribunal ask for it.

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She said the investigation of the CHR during her time as its chairperson would be a rich source of evidence for the ICC.

“It is a reference point because it is where the names Edgar Matobato, Arturo Lascañas first came out. And then, years later, in 2016, it was officially confirmed, their very existence, and then their stories were heard during that Senate investigation, which again I headed. But I was ultimately ousted as the chairperson,” De Lima said.

Matobato and Lascañas are both confessed hitmen claiming to be former members of the Davao Death Squad.

“It also gave us insights on how this is organized, the Davao Death Squad. And the use of intelligence funds to fund the operations: the killings, the reward system, the organization, the use of police officers,” De Lima added.

Early in his term, President Marcos maintained the government would not cooperate with the ICC, saying there were no legal grounds to do so, especially after the country’s withdrawal from membership took effect in 2019.

But Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra this week said “cooperating despite the absence of a legal duty is a political decision that only the President can make.”

Guevarra also said the Commission on Human Rights would not be prevented from cooperating with ICC officials since it is an independent body.

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