Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima today said Mr. Duterte is accountable for the spate of killings among high-profile local officials because he encourages criminals to break the law and condones extrajudicial killings with impunity.
De Lima made the statement following the recent killing of Tanauan, Batangas Mayor Antonio Halili, who was on Duterte’s list of suspected narcotics-linked officials. “Duterte may not have fired the gun that killed Mayor Antonio Halili of Tanauan, Batangas, but he most certainly murdered him with his words,” she said in her latest Dispatch from Crame No. 338.
“Ordinarily, it might be true that words do not kill. But when one is the President, words become orders. This is how Duterte gives the killers their mandate to kill, and protects them from whatever semblance of the law still remains under his administration,” she added.
Halili is the latest local chief executive killed since Duterte assumed presidency in July 2016. He was shot dead by still unidentified suspect while attending the City Hall’s flag-raising ceremony for government employees last July 2.
Halili’s death came roughly a week after Duterte delivered a speech at the 29th National Convention of the Vice Mayors’ League of the Philippines in Bohol where the President advised vice mayors to save on their election campaign and just kill their mayor.
Duterte claimed that Halili’s death was linked to the latter’s involvement to the illegal drug trade and even compared the late mayor’s death to that of other slain mayors who had supposed links to illegal drugs.
Among the mayors who were killed due to their supposed links to illegal drugs include Reynaldo Parojinog of Ozamiz City in Misamis Occidental and Rolando Espinosa of Albuera in Leyte.
De Lima, who has been constantly subjected to unsubstantiated accusations levelled against her by Mr. Duterte, recalled how Duterte’s threat in the past led to the killings of Espinosa and Parojinog.
“First, he came up with a narco-list of mayors and LGU officials. Then he warned them that he would go after them and kill them. After that the police came and killed one mayor inside his jail cell, and another inside his own home. His whole government goaded his tough talk and the killings,” she said.
Since Duterte launched his administration’s all-out war on drugs, more than 23,000 have died without being accorded a day in court.