Republic of the Philippines

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

Quezon City

SIXTEENTH CONGRESS

First Regular Session

HOUSE RESOLUTION NO. 1222

Introduced by BAYAN MUNA Representatives

CARLOS ISAGANI T. ZARATE and NERI JAVIER COLMENARES

 

RESOLUTION

DIRECTING THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON HUMAN RIGHTS TO CONDUCT AN IMMEDIATE INVESTIGATION, IN AID OF LEGISLATION, ON THE EXTRAJUDICIAL KILLINGS PERPETRATED BY THE TAGUM DEATH SQUAD ALLEGEDLY CREATED BY LOCAL GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS IN TAGUM CITY, DAVAO DEL NORTE

WHEREAS, extrajudicial killings have become an instant recourse taken by certain government officials and state security forces to go around with the judicial system to execute or annihilate suspected criminals. In Tagum City, a death squad has been allegedly formed to exterminate the “weeds” of society;

WHEREAS, in a report by international human rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) entitled “One Shot to the Head: Death Squad Killings in Tagum City, Philippines”, around 300 cases of extrajudicial killings in Tagum City from 2007 to 2013 were attributed to the “Tagum Death Squad” (TDS) which is linked to the then city mayor, Rey “Chiong” Uy. The TDS was formed within the city’s Civil Security Unit, whose members were recruited and under the payroll of said local government agency as contained in HRW’s report;

WHEREAS, the murder of civilians, suspected of petty crimes, were executed in broad daylight by motorcycle-riding gunmen. The assassinations include not only suspected petty criminals but also journalists, local businessmen, tribal leaders and children as young as a nine-year old boy. The extrajudicial killings occurred during Mayor Uy’s term, and the HRW report stated that some killings occurred even after his term in office;

WHEREAS, the HRW reported that the local police unit in Tagum City did not only fail to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of these extrajudicial killings, but alleged that the police acted in complicity with the TDS in the commission of the crimes. The gunmen informed the local police officers of an impending attack in order to clear the area. Police officers appear in the crime scene not to investigate but to ascertain if eyewitnesses were able to identify the gunmen. The police officers are also actively involved in covering up the gunmen if they suspect an eyewitness has identified the assassin;

WHEREAS, the impunity by which the TDS commit these murders show the utter disregard of government officials in the justice system. The reason that those murdered were “weeds” of society is not sufficient to disregard the suspect’s right to due process. The fact that they are suspects means they are not yet convicted of any crime, and killing them without due process is a greater crime in itself;

WHEREAS, there is no need to create a death squad if the local police force do its job properly, that is, to keep the peace, arrest and prosecute the criminals and bring them to the bar of justice. The creation of a death squad only shows the incompetence of the local police in enforcing the laws. The mere creation of the TDS is a slap on their face;

WHEREAS, what is more disturbing is that the victims of these killings include children, 12-year-old Macky Lumangtad and nine-year-old Jenny Boy Lagulos. These children are so young that if indeed they were involved in a petty crime, they need not be executed but should be brought to rehabilitation centers for minors;

WHEREAS, the TDS was also formed not only to eliminate the so-called “weeds” of society but also as gun-for-hire for rich clients who want to eliminate their business rivals. In the HRW report, at least one instance was reported that the TDS was hired to kill local businessmen who are rivals of some other businessmen close to or allied with local officials;

WHEREAS, the killing of a local journalist critical to local officials all the more discredits the claim that the TDS aims to get rid of criminal elements in Tagum City. The TDS is a unit aimed at silencing the enemies of government officials;

WHEREAS, it is imperative that Congress should investigate the proliferation of death squads in order to craft appropriate legislative measures that put to end extrajudicial killings and restore law and order. Moreover, the perpetrators of these senseless killings should be penalized;

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, AS IT IS HEREBY RESOLVED, that the House Committee on Human Rights conduct an immediate investigation, in aid of legislation, on the extrajudicial killings perpetrated by the Tagum Death Squad allegedly created by local government officials of Tagum City, Davao Del Norte.

Adopted,

Rep. CARLOS ISAGANI T. ZARATE Rep. NERI JAVIER COLMENARES

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