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Davao mother's plea against 'death squad' Duterte



MOTHER'S DAY is always tough for Philippine slum dweller Clarita Alia, whose four teenage sons were believed to be killed by vigilante squads, but this year even more so as the man she blames is close to becoming president.

Alia, 62, lives a bitter existence in a shanty town in the southern city of Davao, with a gutter running through her kitchen and only fading photos of her sons who were murdered between 2001 and 2007 after various run-ins with the local police.

Davao is the long-time domain of Rodrigo Duterte, the tough-talking lawyer who has surged to become the favourite to win Monday's presidential elections on a platform of abandoning human rights laws and killing tens of thousands of suspected criminals across the country.

Millions of Filipinos have embraced his authoritarian dogma, as they seek a saviour to the chaos and corruption that dogs their lives. Roughly one quarter of the nation's 100 million people live below the poverty line, and crime is rampant.

But Alia wants to warn other Filipinos of the dangers she believes Duterte would bring to the nation if he rises to the presidency.

"I don't want him to become president," Alia, one of the few people willing to speak out publicly against Duterte in Davao, told AFP on Sunday as mothers around the world celebrated being with their children.

"He doesn't have any morals. God forbid if he becomes president. So many children will be victims."

Duterte is accused of running death squads in Davao that summarily executed suspected criminals. Human rights groups say the squads -- made up of local police, former communist rebels and hired assassins -- have killed more than 1,000 people.

Alia's sons were aged between 14 and 18 when they were killed. She and rights groups believe they were murdered by the death squads, after police warned the boys they were on hit lists.


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