UN human rights chief urges murder inquiry into Duterte's killing claim

By Reuters/Manuel Mogato   December 20, 2016 | 05:23 pm PT
UN human rights chief urges murder inquiry into Duterte's killing claim
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte points to a piece of paper containing a list of personalities he alleges are involved with the drug trade, as he delivers a speech during an awarding ceremony for outstanding Filipinos and organizations overseas, at the Malacanang Palace in Manila, Philippines December 19, 2016. Photo by Reuters/Ezra Acayan
President Rodrigo Duterte claims he killed three people as mayor of Davao City and has commanded thousands of killings in his war on drugs.

The United Nations human rights commission has urged the Philippines to launch murder investigations into President Rodrigo Duterte claims he killed three people as mayor of Davao City and all killings in his war on drugs.

Since July when Duterte assumed the presidency, there had been 6,000 people killed in the government's war on drugs, about a third died in police anti-narcotics operations and the rest by motorcycle-riding masked men and vigilante groups.

Duterte told a gathering of businessmen last week that as mayor of Davao City he "personally" killed criminals as he prowled the streets.

He later admitted killing three men, who were involved in a kidnapping case, during a police gunfight in late 1980s.

"The Philippines judicial authorities must demonstrate their commitment to upholding the law and their independence from the executive by launching a murder investigation," said Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, in reference to Duterte's claims.

"The killing described by President Duterte also violates international law, including the right to life, freedom from violence and force, due process and fair trial, equal protection before the law and innocence until proven guilty," Zeid said in a statement.


An investigator takes notes next to the body of a man killed in a shoot-out with police in Manila, Philippines early October 21, 2016. According to the police, sachets containing substance believed to be the drug shabu (Metamphetamine Hydrochloride) were found in the killed man's pockets. Photo by Reuters/Damir Sagolj.

He also said "there is surprisingly little information on actual prosecutions" over recent killings, despite police investigations into thousands of killings by vigilantes.

"Credible and independent investigation must be urgently re-opened into the killings in Davao, as well as into the shocking number of killings that have occurred across the country since Duterte became president," Zeid said.


The bodies of Noberto Maderal and fellow pedicab driver George Avancena, killed during a drug-related police operation, are taken away by funeral parlour workers in Manila, Philippines October 19, 2016. Photo by Reuters/Damir Sagolj

Duterte's allies in Congress said the president was immune from any lawsuit and cannot be investigated for actions he had done before he assumed office. He can only face an inquiry after he is removed from power, they added.

"In fact, then Justice Secretary Leila de Lima had investigated such cases and came up with no actionable offences," said Congressman Rodolfo Farinas.

"The president could only be impeached by acts or omissions committed as president."

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