Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Stop extrajudicial killings in Davao City, lawyer urges authorities

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – A prominent lawyer and son of House Speaker Prospero Nograles has called on the authorities to put a stop to extrajudicial killings in Davao City in the southern Philippines.

Karlo Nograles, who is also his father’s chief of staff, expressed alarm over the spate of unresolved murders blamed to the shadowy group called Davao death Squad, which was behind the hundreds of killings of suspected criminals and drug addicts over the years.

He said the only way to stop the murders is to get its mastermind. The so-called vigilante killings, he said, brought shame to Davao City.

”You solve problems at its roots,” the young lawyer said during his Saturday’s radio talk show called “Kalamboan Dala Tanan.”

He also talked about the continuing investigation by the Commission on Human Rights on the killings that have drawn outcries from the United Nations and the New York-based Human Rights Watch.

The CHR on Friday conducted its 4th round of investigation on the alleged existence of the death squad. Lawyer Leila de Lima, CHR chairwoman, said she is convinced that the death squad exists and that it is likely behind over 800 murders the past 10 years.

Also alarmed by the killings, the House Speaker has the “Anti-Salvage Bill” in the lower house. “It was also a response to calls by international agencies to put an end to the killings,” Nograles said.

Former District 2 Councilor Beethoven Orcullo, a guest in Nograles’ radio program, said the killing spree in Davao City is unprecedented.

Also a former prosecutor, Orcullo agreed with the young Nograles that the brains behind the extrajudicial killings should be arrested and jailed. “Murder is a capital offense,” he said.

Another radio guest, Greggo Pantig, said residents are against summary executions.

He said the locals cannot openly protest about the killings because they are afraid of possible retaliation from the death squad.

“We have the police. We have the courts and the jail and there is no reason to kill people even if they are criminal suspects,” he said.

Pantig said the street killings have only brought chaos to community, pointing out as an example other areas that are ruled by warlords. “Places where killings are prevalent do not progress,” he said.

“The opposition to street killings is best symbolized by the campaign of the Catholic church to stop the Davao Death Squad. The priests gave Davao City a courageous and strong moral voice against these terrifying elements of society,” he added.

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