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Monday, June 24, 2024

[The Slingshot] A Duterte and Bato cop named Patay

Antonio J. Montalvan II, Jun 10, 2024, Rappler.com

It was an unthinkable scene.

In the six years under Rodrigo Duterte, it was completely inconceivable to bring police officer Lito E. Patay to Congress and be grilled by legislators. First of all, the topic was classic Duterte untouchable: extrajudicial killings by the nation’s Philippine National Police (PNP).

Laguna congressman Dan Fernandez, who chairs the House committee on public order and safety, made a shocking announcement: “The government can use the minutes of these hearings for the purpose of coordinating with the ICC.” And that is what appears to be the aim of the hearings.

Paolo Duterte has scrambled a futile damage control by asking the House to also investigate all extrajudicial killings in the last 25 years under previous presidents. It is obviously a bid to detract attention away from his beleaguered father. It will fall on deaf ears, as it should be. The Duterte political capital is not headed for “maisug” days.

Lito Patay was certainly not the only one transported to Manila to begin Duterte’s so-called war on drugs. His assignment at Station 6 in Batasan, Quezon City, was the subject of a Reuters report complete with factual information sourced from police blotters and even interviews. How his police career was configured after Station 6 speaks so well of how the Duterte administration evaded justice for human rights violations – with impunity.

Reuters’ “The boys from Davao” (written by Clare Baldwin, Reade Levinson, Andrew R. C. Marshall) should continue to be read by many today as a very succinct representation of how Duterte mangled the state’s police force whose principal role is to protect citizenry into a killing machine.

No coincidences

Rodrigo Duterte assumed office as president on June 30, 2016. The next day on July 1, Bato dela Rosa assumed office as national police chief. Four days later on July 5, Lito Patay and his eight Davao boys arrived in Manila to begin their work at Station 6 the next day July 6. It was premeditated and well calculated. The Manila assignment had been planned.

That they came from Davao was not an accident. As it was also not an accident that Duterte had appointed Dela Rosa as the national police chief. As commander of Station 6, Patay had 78 police officers under his command to begin the drug war in that part of the metropolis.

Back in Davao, Patay had an aura of legend about him. One of the Davao Boys intimated to the Reuters writers: “Patay kayo kay Patay” (You are dead with Patay). He said his group was sent purposely to Station 6 because of their “special kill skills.”

Remember this was just the first year of Duterte’s drug war from July 2016 to June 2017. In the few months that Patay headed Station 6, it chalked up a death tally of 108. It was the highest in all of Quezon City. Second was Station 4 with 81 deaths. Total killed in Quezon City was 280 people. Patay’s Station 6 accounted for 39% of all police killings.

Yet, despite the publication of the damning Reuters exposé, the PNP never gave a damn about it. Patay’s police career, and that of his eight Davao boys, was never interrupted by any police inquest, as the law requires whenever suspects die during police operations. They just simply did not go by the books. They went by the Duterte books of Davao City.

Dutertismo lies

Patay mumbled at the House hearing that he had never read the Reuters report. He even denied meeting Baldwin, Levinson and Marshall for an interview (which he had, in Pampanga, where he was assigned after Station 6).

In 2017, Patay was promoted and assigned as regional director of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group of Central Luzon based in Pampanga.

In December 2017, Dela Rosa gave a public defense of Patay and the Davao Boys for the first time. He said he was standing by Patay and the Davao Boys. He said they fired only in self-defense. It was a classic Dutertismo lie. Nanlaban, they call it.

Dela Rosa said he chose Patay “because I have big trust in him, he has the balls to face the problems. He will fight. So what’s the problem?” He said Patay had been “given a free hand” at station 6 and had command responsibility over his operations. It was an implicit admission that what happened at Station 6 was the creation of Bato dela Rosa who also faces the possibility of ICC prosecution.

After Pampanga, Patay was assigned to head the CIDG Central Visayas. He told Cebu city media: “CIDG operations will not become synonymous to his surname which means death.” Media asked him about the Reuters report. He refused to comment.

On May 25, 2022, Duterte’s executive secretary Salvador Medialdea signed a 7-page document ordering the dismissal of administrative charges filed against Lito Patay for the brutal death of 17-year old Darwin Hamoy. Hamoy and four other urban poor  youth of Payatas B in Quezon City were killed after police said they had engaged the cops in a gunfight. Hamoy’s mother had testified that all four owned no guns.

But Medialdea said there was no evidence either that Patay was remiss in his performance of duties. He said all 16 policemen who participated in the killings did not use excessive force. It was expected. What was unexpected was Malacañang interfering with the alleged crime of a police officer.

Why was Patay so special to Duterte and Dela Rosa? He was a champion marksman. – Rappler.com.

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