Nograles-Duterte word war rages

PHILIPPINES NEWS SERVICE — THE investigation on the extra-judicial killings in Davao City by the Commission on Human Rights has become a word war between two feuding prominent politicians, Speaker Prospero Nograles of the city’s first district and Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, to whom a shadowy vigilante group blamed for most of the murders is allegedly linked.

The animosity between the two officials worsened when Duterte, known as the “Dirty Harry” of Davao City, once announced in his local television program that he would slap Nograles once he saw in public.

Nograles accepted the challenge, the slapping never materialized because the lawmaker said he never had the chance to meet Duterte in public whenever he was in Davao City.

Only recently, an inmate at the Panabo City Jail filed charges before the city prosecutor’s office against Nograles, CHR Commissioner Leila de Lima and six police officials, accusing them of taking him out of his detention cell without court order.

In an affidavit filed before the city prosecutor’s office in Panabo City, Jonathan M. Balo claimed he was taken to a police station from where he was transferred to a firing range and quarry site in Bgy. Maa, where the CHR and the police found recently an alleged mass grave where unidentified human remains, pieces of ammunition and government and civilian vehicles’ plates.

The firing range and quarry is reportedly owned by a certain Bienvenido Laud, alias Tatay Ben, a retired city policeman and allegedly a bodyguard of a ranking city official.

The vehicles’ plates were identified as SBU 278 registered to a “Ford Fiera jitney” allegedly used by a certain Ledenila Laud, a city government employee; SDV 165 registered to an “Anfra” patrol jeep of the Davao City police; and ZCU 439, whose ownership cannot be traced by the Land Transportation Office (LTO) because it is not in the agency’s main computer base.

Balo claimed that police officials, whom he identified as Sr. Supt. Roberto Fajardo and a certain “Col. Liwag,” forced him to admit that he was a member of the DDS, adding that the driver of the vehicle that brought him to the quarry told him that the “Speaker (Nograles) would take care of his pending cases.

Nograles, a former human rights lawyer, noted that Balo’s affidavit was like a “prepared script because he seemed to talk like a member of a political party.”

Nograles, De Lima named in complaint

Earlier, Nograles has been named “brains” behind the “tales” about the dreaded DDS being linked to Duterte.

This developed as Nograles, Commission on Human Rights (CHR) head Leila de Lima and several officials were named respondents to a complaint filed before the sala of Fiscal Janet Dalisay-Fabrero of the Office of the Prosecutor in Panabo City by detainee Balo, who was brought out of Panabo District Jail without a court order and asked to stand witness against DDS.

Balo of Penaplata, Island Garden of Samal, was allegedly taken out early July 6 by a group of policemen who claimed they were allegedly sent by Nograles to help fix his pending murder case if he admits being a member of DDS and give statements about “salvaging” or summary executions.

Balo was allegedly brought to a quarry formerly used as a firing range owned by one “Ben Laud” in Maa, where a mass grave and skeletal remains of four men were reportedly found.

“I was told that Speaker Nograles would help take care of my pending case if I join their group and do what they want,” said Balo.

Balo also said another detainee, identified as Jose Duremdes, had allegedly agreed to join Nograles’ group who helped drop his case.

After Balo was returned to jail, he asked his relatives to seek a lawyer to press charges against Nograles, De Lima and the policemen.

Duterte had vehemently denied having anything to do with the alleged summary executions, saying the CHR investigation on the DDS is politically motivated.