Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Monday said there is no proof linking former Davao City mayor and now President Rodrigo Duterte to the vigilante killings led by the Davao Death Squad (DDS) in his hometown.
“I investigated the Davao Death Squads. I concluded, that while the Davao Death Squad does exist, there was no evidence linking the President to that Davao Death Squad. And that’s the matter on record,” Roque said in a television interview.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) pre-trial has earlier recommended the formal investigation on Duterte over his war on drugs program and his alleged link to extrajudicial killings carried out by the Davao Death Squad.
Prior to Duterte’s presidency in 2016, he was the mayor of Davao City from 1988 to 1998, 2001 to 2010, and 2013 to 2016.
“From my own investigation, while I confirm the existence of the Davao Death Squad, I found no evidence that then-Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte was involved,” Roque said.
In fact, Roque added that during the investigation they dug a supposed graveyard site in Davao City as pointed out by self-confessed DDS member Edgar Matobato where the bodies were buried.
“I knew about them even before and we went to the site where they allegedly buried mass bodies, we conducted a dig with Peruvian anthropologist Jose Pablo Baraybar and we only found a skeleton of a dog,” he said. “We went to dig there, we found nothing.”
Matobato and his colleague Arturo Lascañas earlier confessed that Duterte was the one ordering the killings in Davao City.
The ICC earlier said there is a “reasonable” basis to believe that “the crime against humanity of murder was committed from at least 1 July 2016 to 16 March 2019 in the context of the Philippine government’s war on drug’s campaign.”