President Rodrigo Duterte once admitted to knowing about the vigilante killings in Davao City and even permitting them, according to a confidential cable on May 8, 2009 that was published in WikiLeaks.
The cable was written by then-US ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney, who quoted then-Commission on Human Rights Regional Director Alberto Sipaco Jr. on his statements about Duterte and the killings.
“Commission on Human Rights Regional Director Alberto Sipaco (strictly protect) at a private meeting affirmed that Mayor Duterte knows about the killings and permits them. Recounting a conversation he once had with Duterte, who is his close friend and former fraternity brother, Sipaco said he pleaded with the Mayor to stop vigilante killings and support other methods to reduce crime, like rehabilitation programs for offenders,” Kenney wrote in her cable.
“According to Sipaco, the Mayor responded, “I’m not done yet”,” Kenney added.
Kenney’s cable also showed Sipaco trying to reason with the then-Davao City mayor to stop the “unlawful killings” but Duterte did not even want to discuss the issue.
“Sipaco said he repeatedly attempted to reason with Duterte that the killings were unlawful and detrimental to society, but Duterte refused to broach the issue,” Kenney wrote.
“Sipaco expressed a sense of helplessness over the killings, as well as concern for his personal safety, but acknowledged that the CHR was taking its mission in Davao very seriously. On the margins of the public hearings, the CHR was working to locate witnesses, retrieve them in private unmarked cars, collect their testimony in undisclosed and protected locations, and seek their agreement to testify. These intense security measures were necessary to protect witnesses from the police, Sipaco said, who could seek to intimidate or silence witnesses before they had a chance to appear in court,” Kenney said.
Sipaco added that Duterte’s anger towards criminality and drugs came from his own family’s experience as one of his sons used abuse drugs.
“CHR Regional Director Sipaco (strictly protect) noted that Mayor Duterte’s visible rage against criminality and drugs stemmed from family history: Sipaco claimed that one of Duterte’s two sons previously abused drugs, and the Mayor channeled his anger over his son’s drug use not just against drug pushers, but also drug users, eventually leading him to embrace vigilante killings as a means to reduce crime,” Kenney wrote.
WikiLeaks publishes leaked documents, news, and classified media from anonymous sources. It was founded by Julian Assange, an Australian computer programmer, in 2006. Rappler noted that while governments avoid confirming leaked documents on WikiLeaks, they rarely deny the authenticity of those documents.
Rappler also asked for comment from the US embassy in Manila, but they refused to confirm the cable published on WikiLeaks.
“We do not comment on the substance or authenticity of materials, including allegedly classified documents, which may have been leaked,” US embassy press attache Molly Koscina said in an email to Rappler.
On Sunday, September 25, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said that Malacañang will look into the leaked cable.
“We will look into [it] first,” Andanar said in a text message to GMA News Online.