'Former mayor organised' Philippines death squad that killed 300 people

Rey Uy has denied all involvement in the deaths in Tagum City

A death squad allegedly organised by a former mayor has killed almost 300 alleged drug dealers, petty criminals and street children in the Philippines, according to a report.

Human Rights Watch investigated the involvement of local government officials and police officers in years of murders in the city of Tagum.

The group said it had documented at least a dozen cases from January 2007 to March 2013 using accounts of former hit men, witnesses, police and victims’ relatives.

Rey “Chiong” Uy, the former mayor, denied all allegations and said they were based on testimony gained by coercion and paid for by drug dealers and illegal gamblers.

Phelim Kine, Human Rights Watch's deputy Asia director, said there was “compelling evidence” against Mr Uy, who was mayor from 1998 to 2013, although he was not aware of all killings.

He added: “Rey Uy called these citizens ‘weeds.’ He and other city officials and police officers underwrote targeted killings as a perverse form of crime control,” he added.

“The Tagum death squad's activities imposed a fear-enforced silence in Tagum City that allowed the killers and their bosses to literally get away with murder.”

Anyone who had quit the death squad reportedly became targets themselves.

The killings Human Rights Watch documented typically occurred on the streets and often in broad daylight.

The hit men, wearing baseball caps and sunglasses and armed with handguns, would arrive and depart on government-issued motorcycles.

Former assassins told researchers that they would routinely inform local police of an impending targeted killing, so they would not interfere and the police in turn would notify them if anyone was identified by witnesses.

The pressure group claimed that President Benigno Aquino III has largely ignored the killings.

But presidential spokesman Herminio Coloma said Mr Aquino had “affirmed the government's commitment to render justice to victims of extrajudicial killings dating back to those that were perpetrated in previous administrations”.

He said cases that were dismissed by prosecutors were ordered to be reviewed by the President.

The statement said Mr Uy, his close aides and police officers had “hired, equipped and paid for an operation that at its height consisted of 14 hit men and accomplices” since his first term as mayor in 1998.

His son lost the election to succeed him after he stepped down in 2013.

Hit men were allegedly paid 5,000 pesos (£65) for each killing. The report said Uy personally paid the hit men on at least two occasions but he denied the accusation.

“Everybody knows the house of the mayor, and they come soliciting help for this and that problem. It is easy to point to the mayor,” he told The Associated Press.

He suggested that the killings were “vengeance” from the victims of the criminals and rivalry between crime gangs.

“Certain individuals here coerced the so-called witnesses, gave them money to make up stories,” he said.

“They don't want me to return to power because if I come back, they will lose their businesses,” he said, adding that he plans to run in the next election.

The Tagum group was to have started as a crime-fighting unit patterned after the death squad in nearby Davao City, which propelled that city’s mayor, Rodrigo Duterte, to national fame.

Human Rights Watch said the death squad’s victims included journalist, a judge, two police officers, a tribal leader, local politicians and businessmen.

The group is calling on the government to take action to stop extrajudicial killings in Tagum City and elsewhere and properly investigate the crime.

Additional reporting by Associated Press

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Voices
Ukip leader Nigel Farage arrives at the Rochester by-election count
voicesIs it any wonder that Thornberry, Miliband, and Cameron have no idea about ordinary everyday life?
Sport
sportComment: Win or lose Hamilton represents the best of Britain
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Arsene Wenger reacts during Arsenal's 2-1 defeat to Swansea
footballMan United and Arsenal meet on Saturday with both clubs this time languishing outside the top four
News
i100BBC political editor Nick Robinson had a lot of explaining to do
Life and Style
Nappies could have advice on them to encourage mothers and fathers to talk to their babies more often
newsTalking to babies can improve their language and vocabulary skills
Sport
Tony Bellew holds two inflatable plastic sheep at the weigh-in for his rematch with Nathan Cleverly
boxingGrudge match takes place on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Ronson at PS1
arts + ents
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Female Support Workers / Carers - From £8.00 per hour

£8 - £12 per hour: Recruitment Genius: To assist a young family with the care ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Executive

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Executive is required...

Argyll Scott International: Commercial Finance Manager

£55000 - £70000 per annum: Argyll Scott International: My client, a world lead...

Argyll Scott International: Commercial Finance Manager

Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: My client, a world leading services pr...

Day In a Page

US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

Immigration: Obama's final frontier

The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

You know that headache you’ve got?

Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

Scoot commute

Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

The Paul Robeson story

How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
10 best satellite navigation systems

Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

Paul Scholes column

England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

Frank Warren column

Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines