VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Duterte falsely claims there are no killings in Davao City

President Rodrigo Duterte wrongly claimed there are no killings in Davao City as he underscored the importance of peace for economic progress and enjoined members of the New People’s Army (NPA) to return to the fold.


Calling on the communist rebels to surrender, Duterte in an Oct. 19 speech said:

Tan-awa ninyong hulagway sa syudad sa Davao ug ubang lugar. Tan-awa ninyo og unsa’y madangat sa usa ka lugar nga wala’y patay (You compare Davao with other places. Look at what a city can achieve… In a place where there are no killings; how a city would be without killings).”

He added:

Nahibaw mo nga ang usa ka lugar og gubot pareho niadto, patay ngari, diha. Pinakadaghang patay diri. Hasta tong tindahan diha sa kanto, kinsa to, si…Nianang kantoha. Diri sa Callawa, diri pa…Kapila ko maglusot-lusot nga nag-giyera mo. Dili gyud ta muangat (You know, if a certain place is chaotic like what happened before, there were killings here and there. This place had the most number of killings. Even the store there at the corner of the street — who was that? Si…That corner there. It was in Callawa. I crossed that place so many times while you were waging a war. We will never prosper).”

Source: Presidential Communications Operations Office, President Rodrigo Duterte, Speech during the inauguration of the Gaisano Grand Citygate Mall, Oct. 19, 2018, watch from 3:35-3:50.


It is not clear if the president meant there are no murders and homicides or there are no killings as a result of NPA clashes in Davao City. His claim is false either way.

If he was referring to the first scenario, government data belie his claim.

The city saw a total of 56 murder and 15 homicide incidents from Jan. 1 to Oct. 31, 2018 alone, based on the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) Bantay Krimen online interactive map.

The site counts and plots major crime incidents in the country down to the street level based on data from the PNP’s Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management (DIDM) unit, which handles all crime statistics. However, some of the site’s features, including the map, are currently unavailable while the data is being revalidated, according to the PNP’s IT division.

Revalidation is done to incorporate late reported crimes and other adjustments by the regional offices, a DIDM staff said.

In 2017, the city recorded 122 murders and 20 homicides, based on data from the Davao regional police office published on their official website.

PNP quarterly crime data as of February 2017 show there were 162 murders and 20 homicides in the city in 2016. During Duterte’s last term as mayor, the tally stood at 219 for murder and 31 for homicide in 2015; 169 and 25 in 2014; and 157 and 55 in 2013.

Davao City ranked first in the number of murder cases at 1,032, and third in homicide at 245 in the PNP’s list of 15 cities with the highest index crimes from 2010 to 2015. Sara Duterte, the president’s daughter was city mayor from 2010 to 2013; the older Duterte from 2013 to 2016.

The Revised Penal Code defines homicide and murder as the killing of another person who is not an immediate family member, while murder is done deliberately, inhumanely or with evident premeditation, among other qualifications.

But even if Duterte meant not one had been killed in clashes between government troops and the NPA, he would still be wrong.

Multiple news reports show at least nine people, soldiers and rebels alike, were killed in the past two years alone.

The latest incident, a firefight which killed an alleged rebel leader at Toril District, Davao City, took place on Sept. 16, merely a month before Duterte uttered the claim.

Through Google Advanced Search using the keywords “NPA,” “Davao City” and “Killed,” VERA Files was able to triangulate four military-NPA encounters that yielded casualties.

Duterte had previously misstated the peace and order situation in the city (See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Is Davao City ‘relatively safe’?).


PCOO, President Rodrigo Duterte, Speech during the inauguration of the Gaisano Grand Citygate Mall, Oct. 9, 2018

Philippine National Police, Bantay Krimen Map

Philippine National Police, Quick Look Crime Environment Report, National Level and Davao City, data as of February 20, 2017

Top 15 Highest Number of Index Crimes, Alleged NPA rebel killed in Davao clash, Sept. 17, 2018

GMA News Online, NPA commander killed in Davao city clash — military, Sept. 17, 2018

Philippine News Agency, NPA leader killed in clash with Army troops, Sept. 17, 2018

Manila Bulletin, Two NPAs killed in an attempt to recover a cleared barangay in Davao city, June 28, 2018

Mindanao Times, 2 NPAs killed in clash, June 29, 2018

Philippine News Agency, 2 die, 2 hurt as NPA tries to retake lair in Davao, June 28, 2018, 2 soldiers killed in firefight with NPA rebels in Davao, June 11, 2017, 2 soldiers killed in Davao city clash, June 12, 2017

SunStar Philippines, 2 dead, 6 wounded in Davao city clash, June 11, 2017, 4 killed in NPA ambush in Davao city, Feb. 17, 2017

Manila Bulletin, NPA clash in Davao leaves 2 soldiers, 3 rebels dead; 11 others wounded, Feb. 17, 2018

SunStar Philippines, 4 killed 15 wounded in Davao roadside bombing, firefight, Feb. 17, 2017

(Guided by the code of principles of the International
Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims,
flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks
them with factual evidence.
Find out more
about this initiative
and our methodology.)