Oct 032014

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
2005-01-20 08:14
2011-08-30 01:44
Embassy Manila

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 000312




E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/20/2015


¶B. 03 MANILA 6557

Classified By: Political Officer Andrew McClearn for Reasons
1.4 (b) and (d)

¶1. (C) Summary: There have been 26 reported killings of
suspected criminals in Davao City, Mindanao, since the new
year began. Human rights organizations have implicated the
“Davao Death Squad,” a vigilante group linked with Davao
Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, in the killings. Mission has
expressed concern to the GRP about the killings in Davao and
earlier reports of similar killings in Cebu City. Amid
further incendiary comments by the local mayor, the
Philippine National Police (PNP) have begun an investigation
into the situation in Cebu. The latest killings in Davao
serve to add to the lethal image that Mayor Duterte has
carefully cultivated since coming to office in 1998. End

Davao: Surge in Vigilante-Style Killings

¶2. (SBU) There have been 26 reported vigilante-style
killings in Davao City, Mindanao, since the new year began.
Most of those killed were apparently petty criminals,
although the list of victims included marketplace vendors,
construction workers, a housewife, and two members of a
leftist political party. Press reports indicate that masked
men on motorcycles committed most of the killings.

¶3. (SBU) Human rights organizations have accused the “Davao
Death Squad,” (DDS) a vigilante group linked with Davao Mayor
Duterte, of carrying out many of the killings. The DDS was
similarly implicated in over 60 killings in 2004. Mayor
Duterte all but acknowledged his active support of the DDS
group during a 2003 meeting with poloffs (Ref B). PNP
officials, who are investigating the situation, are also
looking into reports that some of the killings may have been
the result of a local turf war between traffickers of “shabu”
(meta-amphetamines). Duterte, referring to the killings,
stated last week: “Drug lords are garbage and we will dispose
of them like garbage.” In a January 17 meeting at city hall,
he also offered cash rewards to citizens who helped identify
drug traffickers or drug production laboratories so that they
could be “punished and destroyed.”

——————————————— –
Lack of Confidence in GRP Investigatory Effort
——————————————— –

¶4. (C) Mission has raised concerns about the latest killings
in Davao. Philippine government contacts have promised that
the GRP is looking into the situation. Albert Sipaco,
director of the Davao office of the Commission on Human
Rights (CHR), told us that he did not have confidence in the
ability of the national government to investigate the
situation, however well-intentioned it might be: “We are
having the same problem as last year; friends and families of
the victims don’t lift a finger to accuse anyone, and neither
eyewitnesses or hearsay witnesses come forward to the
authorities.” Sipaco added that Duterte was unlikely to
cooperate in any investigation given past patterns.
Moreover, most Davao citizens “seem to approve” of the
extra-judicial killings, which strengthened Duterte’s hand
immeasurably, he said. Local human rights NGOs and leftist
groups have also publicly complained about the killings,
blaming Duterte for what has transpired.

PNP Investigation in Cebu

¶5. (C/NF) Mission, in meetings with GRP officials, has also
expressed concern regarding the recent string of apparent
extra-judicial killings in Cebu (see Ref A). Mission has
received confirmation that PNP Director General Edgar Aglipay
has ordered his organization to investigate the situation.
On January 14, Aglipay deployed his personal staff assistant,
LTC Dionardo Carlos, to the PNP’s regional task force office
in Cebu. Carlos, who has a good reputation, confided to DEA
officer that he had been tasked with investigating the 14
killings that have taken place in Cebu, including the
accusations that some elements of the PNP are involved.
Separately, poloff conveyed USG concern over the matter to
Cebu City Vice Mayor Michael Rama.

¶6. (U) In the meantime, Mayor Tommy Osmena has continued to
make public comments that clearly indicate his support for
vigilante-style activities against suspected criminals. For
example, Osmena was recently quoted as stating the following
to a group of police officers:

“Go ahead, pull the trigger. As mayor, my warning to anybody
doing a crime is I will see to it that you’ll be dead on the
spot. If we catch you, you will be so sorry — you won’t be


¶7. (C) The latest killings in Davao serve to add to the
lethal image that Mayor Duterte has carefully cultivated
since coming to office in 1998. As touched on above, his
clear support for and public encouragement of extra-judicial
killings has only added to his popularity — he won his last
two races for mayor by landslides. Unfortunately, Tommy
Osmena, the mayor of Cebu, appears to be following the same
“tough guy” script set out by Duterte (and other Filipino
politicians). The sad fact is that rising crime rates and a
slow, complicated legal system leave many Filipinos
appreciative of such tactics, while weakening the rule of law
in favor of summary justice. On the plus side, many local
human rights groups and other observers continue to highlight
the steep costs of vigilantism to Filipino society and

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