DOJ: Lack of evidence, witness hinder probe on 'Davao Death Squad'

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(L-R) Former SOJ Leila de Lima and acting SOJ Emmanuel Caparas

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — "Iyong witness namin pinangalanan niya kung sino 'yung mga gumagawa niyan, allegedly on orders of Mayor Duterte. Pinangalanan niya."

[Translation: Our witness named the persons behind that, allegedly on orders of Mayor Duterte. The witness identified them.]

This was what former Secretary of Justice (SOJ) and now senator-elect Leila de Lima said back in June, 2015, saying the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) had a lone witness against the dreaded Davao Death Squad (DDS).

Also read: De Lima slams Duterte's 'unacceptable' means to fight crime

De Lima said the witness was a self-confessed hitman of the alleged vigilante group.

But, barely a year on, the Acting SOJ Emmanuel Caparas said on Friday (May 20) that the witness was no longer under the witness protection program (WPP) as he had voluntarily left the custody of the NBI.

Caparas added the NBI's probe on the DDS was now back to zero.

"It's very difficult to speculate ang gagawin ng fiscal — kakausapin witness para i-confirm tapos maghahanap ng corroborating evidence — wala siyang ma-co-corroborate kung wala 'yung witness," said Caparas.

[Translation: It's very difficult to speculate the next move of the fiscal — they will talk to the witness to confirm then they will find corroborating evidence — nothing will be corroborated if there is no witness.]

Also read: Amnesty International to Duterte: Prioritize human rights

For now, Caparas said the statement of the witness would remain on file until he would resurface. 

Incoming president Rodrigo Duterte has been linked to the DDS, which is believed to be responsible for the summary execution of more than a thousand victims.

Duterte has denied involvement with the supposed liquidation group.

Related: Duterte: There is no Davao Death Squad