DAGUPAN CITY — Former Justice Secretary Leila De Lima slammed Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte anew, saying that Duterte’s open admission that he had criminals in his city killed showed that he does not deserve to lead the country as he shows no respect for human rights.

“Digong Duterte keeps on advocating for that brand of justice. I continue to fight him because that is wrong. Hindi po tama ‘yon (That (killing) is not right,” De Lima said in a breakfast press conference here on Monday.

De Lima said Duterte has no right to lead the Philippines because he does not recognize human rights and has no respect for human rights. He stressed that if a person has no respect for human rights, he has also no respect for the law.

De Lima was former chairperson of the Human Rights Commission (HRC).

“I have nothing personal against Mayor Duterte. He’s a fellow Bedan. But I am puzzled because despite his unlawful pronouncements, some people tend to agree with him and embrace what he is saying,” De Lima said.

“Is it right to have to force a criminal or an offender eat bullets? Is it not barbaric?” she asked, recalling that she had in fact asked the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to investigate Duterte and issued to the latter a subpoena in connection with the summary killings of street criminals by supposed members of the so-called Davao Death Squad (DDS).

She admitted that even if the DOJ and NBI believe that there is really a group such as the DDS and which is linked to Duterte, they found difficulty convincing people in Davao willing to execute sworn statements about the reported summary killings.

De Lima said the latest is that a special team from the NBI has a self-confessed DDS member in its custody whom it placed under the Witness Protection Program (WPP) but the team is still gathering corroborative evidence to pin down the DDS to some of the summary killings committed.

As to the public pronouncement of Duterte that he would advocate public hanging for people found guilty of heinous crimes, De Lima reminded Duterte that the Philippines has no death penalty now.

Even if the Constitution says that death penalty could be reinstated, it is in the hands of Congress if this is reinstated.

“I hope it’s not reinstated. I am against death penalty. I am always against death penalty even before,” he said as he revealed that for the past three years, she had been participating in global events advocating for the abolition of death penalty once in a while.

She revealed there is a global group based in Italy advocating for the abolition of death penalty that is going around the world espousing its advocacy.

About two years ago, she said, the Philippines hosted such event.

The trend all over the world now is the abolition of death penalty. There are still countries that impose death penalty. But many others are no longer imposing this, De Lima added.

She said the Philippines does not need to reimpose death penalty and as alternative to this, the country needs only to strengthen its legal systems and practices.

She noted that the country must ensure that the one who really violated the law must really be punished, adding that for heinous crime, the punishment is life imprisonment or reclusion perpetua. PNA/