Is it true that President Duterte allegedly owned up to allowing the slaughter of suspected criminals in Davao during his term as mayor of the city as Wikileaks claimed?
Wikileaks has published thousands of documents and papers concerning controversial subjects from all over the world.
Although governments avoid confirming the leaked documents, they seldom deny its authenticity.
It published a confidential cable dated May 8, 2009 and written by then US Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney quoting statements from then Commission on Human Rights (CHR) regional director Alberto Sipaco Jr., a friend, former fraternity brother and schoolmate of Duterte in San Beda.
What people may find shocking about the cable is its sensitive topic indicating that Duterte not only disclosed he was aware of the killings perpetrated by the Davao Death Squad (DDS), but he allowed them as well.
According to Kenney, Sipaco was in a private meeting with Duterte when the Davao mayor admitted knowing about the killings and permitted it.
Sipaco reportedly pleaded with Duterte to stop the vigilante killings and try other ways of reducing crime, like putting up rehabilitation centers for suspected drug users. However, the mayor allegedly answered he was not done yet.
Sipaco supposedly tried explaining to Duterte that the slaughters were illegal and damaging to society. Still, the mayor refused to raise the subject.
Kenney said that although Sipaco admitted that the CHR was quite serious in the fulfillment of its mission in Davao, the commissioner felt helpless over the killings and also worried for his personal wellbeing.
The final disposition of the Ombudsman Field Investigation Office on the complaint against Duterte over the DDS released last January stated that there was no evidence to support the killings or involve Duterte and the local police to it.
In fact, it agreed with regional director Sipaco that it was unbecoming if the CHR would rely on gossip as fact without any supporting justification.
If the Wikileaks material on the issue is true, apparently, Sipaco kept everything he knew all to himself despite his tell-tale discussion with Duterte.
We may never know what Sipaco’s findings on the DDS and Duterte’s connection to the group of hitmen truly are.
Anyway, Malacañang will be probing the issue.
Whether the President is linked or not to the DDS, the Wikileaks cable provides a sensitive outlook on the subject that is quite relevant to today’s headlines, and self-confessed DDS member Edgar Matobato’s plight.
* * *
SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email email@example.com or tweet @Side_View. Read current and past issues of this column at http://www.tempo.com.ph/category/opinion/firing-line/ (Robert B. Roque, Jr.)