Justice Secretary Leila de Lima (2nd right) and Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. (right) inspect the maximum security compound of the New Bilibid prison in Muntinlupa City on Tuesday. The inspection is part of efforts to clear the prison of illegal activities.  (MN photo)

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima (2nd right) and Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. (right) inspect the maximum security compound of the New Bilibid prison in Muntinlupa City on Tuesday. The inspection is part of efforts to clear the prison of illegal activities. (MN photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) — A witness currently in government custody has claimed that Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte ordered killings perpetrated by the vigilante group Davao Death Squad (DDS), Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Tuesday.

In a chance interview, De Lima described this witness, currently under the government’s Witness Protection Program, as a “self-confessed DDS hitman.”

“Pinangalanan niya kung sino ang gumagawa niyan, allegedly on orders of Mayor Duterte. We have names, and there are also names of the victims,” De Lima told reporters at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport where she joined other Cabinet officials in sending President Benigno Aquino III to his Japan state visit.

The witness had already executed an affidavit which is being validated by the National Bureau of Investigation, she added.

“Pina-case build up ko iyan. Ipinapa-validate ko ang mga istorya niya, if we can have corroborative evidence on each and every incident na isinalaysay niya sa kanyang sinumpaang salaysay para malakas ang kaso kapag ma-file na namin,” the Cabinet official said.

Last week, Duterte, who has ranked third in recent presidential preference polls, admitted in a television interview that he has ties with the DDS. He also said that he would kill criminals if he became President.

Days after this television interview, the Davao City mayor said he was referring to the Davao Development System, not the Davao Death Squad. (MNS)