Is the Filipino worth killing for?

By Perry Diaz

Duterte shows photo of David Tan.

Duterte shows photo of David Tan.

On February 3, 2014, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte testified before a Senate committee what he knew about David Tan. He said that Tan was the central figure in rice smuggling in the country.

A senator asked him if he knew how Tan looked like? Duterte produced a photo of Tan that he claimed was given to him by police investigators. When he was asked if Bangayan — who was seated a few feet away — was the same person as the one on the photo, he said Davidson Bangayan and David Tan are one and the same person. He then said in front of Davidson that if he were caught smuggling in his city, he “will gladly kill” him. Instantly, Duterte became a celebrity.

Duterte’s reputation as a “crime fighter” began in 1988 when he was elected mayor of Davao City, the world’s largest city in land area. At that time, Davao City was called the “Murder Capital of the Philippines.” But the killings were mainly between New People’s Army (NPA) hit squads – called “Sparrow Units” — and a vigilante group known as “Alsa Masa” (Masses Arise). In 1987, the NPA assassins went into hiding after the Alsa Masa killed more than 100 of their members. By 1988, the NPA had retreated from the urban centers, and the killings stopped; and Alsa Masa faded into hibernation.

However, in the mid-1990s, a new vigilante group surfaced. Called the “Davao Death Squad,” or DDS, the group is allegedly responsible for the summary executions of drug traffickers, kidnappers, petty criminals, delinquents, gang members, and other lawbreakers.

Murder capital

Rodrigo-Duterte-assault-rifleIn 2003, when human rights advocates claimed that Davao City had become the country’s “murder capital,” Duterte responded in his TV program “Gimmick for the Masses,” saying: “I admit I am 100 per cent terrorist but I am terrorizing only the drug pushers, kidnappers, holdup gangs, and other criminals.” He said, “Kidnappers, drug pushers from other places, I dare you to come over here so that I can finish you off. Davao City will be a murder capital for you. This will continue up to the end of my term.”

Although Duterte was never proven to be associated with DDS – which was often referred to as “Duterte Death Squad” — he had made public statements that seemed to encourage or condone those killings. In February 2009, he told reporters: “If you are doing an illegal activity in my city, if you are a criminal or part of a syndicate that preys on the innocent people of the city, for as long as I am the mayor, you are a legitimate target of assassination.”

The spate of killings in Davao City attracted the attention of the international group Human Rights Watch (HRW). HRW conducted a study and released a 103-page report entitled, “You Can Die Any Time: Death Squad Killings in Mindanao.” The report detailed the involvement of police and local government officials in targeted killings of alleged drug dealers and petty criminals, street children, and others, and described the lack of any effort by the authorities to investigate the killings and bring the culprits to justice.

Davao City

Davao City

But Davaoeños liked what Duterte was doing for their city. In the Official Website of Davao City, it featured him on February 25, 2012, to wit: “ ‘Digong’, as his closest friends call him, or ‘Rody’, or simply, ‘Duterte’, may have ruled Davao City with what some call ‘iron-fist’, and rid the city of criminals. His hatred for criminals changed Davao City; from the ‘Murder Capital of the Philippines’ to the ‘One of the Most Peaceful Cities in the Philippines’.”

“Duterte for President”

Under Duterte’s leadership, Davao earned a string of awards, both local and international, year after year. These accolades are a testament to his vision of a crime-free city. It’s no wonder then that Davaoeños reelected him 1992 and 1995. Termed out in 1998, he ran for the House of Representatives and won as congressman representing Davao City’s 1st District. In 2001, he ran again for mayor and was elected to his fourth term. He was reelected in 2004 and 2007. Termed out again in 2010, he ran for vice-mayor of Davao City while his daughter Sara “Inday” Duterte-Carpio ran for mayor. In 2013, Sara decided not to run for reelection; thus, paving the way for her father’s comeback as the city’s mayor. Duterte ran again for mayor and was elected to his seventh term.

After he was elected mayor in 2013, Davao City received another accolade: The world’s “fourth safest place” in a poll conducted by the website Out of 349 entries, Davao City was the only metropolis in the Philippines that made it to the “Top 10.” The result was posted online, which was lauded by netizens all over the country. Some of the postings said, “Duterte for President.”

Anti-crime crusader

Rodrigo-Duterte-motorcycleLast February 12, President Benigno Aquino III was in Davao City to attend a summit meeting of the leaders of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). According to reports, Aquino did not smoke in compliance with Davao City’s strict “no smoking” policy. He also ordered his convoy to adhere to the city’s speed limit policy. This elicited reaction from Duterte who told reporters, “We have a law-abiding President.”

But even his daughter Sara Duterte-Carpio, was not exempt from these policies. Last month, the police reportedly arrested her for violating the speed limit policy.

Back in 2002, an article appeared in TIME Magazine that tagged Duterte as “The Punisher.” It portrayed him as mayor, legislator, judge, jury, and – possibly – executioner, all rolled into one. It’s a reputation that he built over the years, which transformed his city from a haven for criminals to one of the most peaceful places on Earth. Indeed, after more than 25 years in public service, Duterte has yet to mellow out as an anti-crime crusader.

But notwithstanding all the good things that had happened in Davao City, one wonders if Duterte’s use of the Machiavellian aphorism, “The means justifies the end,” was compatible with democratic principles, which begs the question: “Is the Filipino worth killing for?”


15 Responses. Have your say.

  1. Guy Guerrero says:

    What a guy! Hey, if works, do it. It is the only way Filipinos understand. It could be refined over time. He should be the commanding general of all police and armed forces in the PHL. His methods worked in the old wild west of the USA.

  2. tery juban says:

    anybody who is against the law (especially in a heinous crime)is worth killing for…

  3. rectomercene says:

    The kind of person we need to run this god-forsaken country

  4. Mamay Ute says:

    Democracy Philippine style is often called “DEMOCRAZY” as law makers are law breakers. Lack of discipline is just so prevalent that people do bad things with the notion that they can always get away with it. Duterte’s leadership style works and other leaders can learn from him.

  5. rick bernabe,capt.,USAF retired says:

    Mayor duterte….by far is and should be the most revered and respected person on earth,and should received the highest honor and accolades for doing the right things for peace…..which the whole troubled world needs.
    the people of mexico,and the drug infested cities in latin america ,LA CA.,and NY should send their law enforcement personnel to learn,improvise,from dutertes’s school of getting rid of problem criminals…..that is to finish them right off the bat period.
    these human rights defenders are old songs that places and puts innocent lives of the poor at stake and in jeopardy every seconds of their life. mayor duterte’s advocacy for peace is above reproach. He’s my hero in every sense of the word.

  6. noel calisa says:

    My advocacy, Mayor DUTERTE FOR PRESSIDENT is what we needs for the hard headed Filipinos. Mabuhay ka Mayor Duterte.

    • Maria says:

      Who is reading this in May 9, 2016? mabuhay ang Pilipinas! Duterte para sa tunay na pagbabago. #PHVoteDuterte

  7. roy says:

    With too many people and plenty of criminals, the only way to stop is to liquidate. Criminals are so brazen and never respect the laws. To hell with human rights criminal sympathizers!

  8. lito says:

    This is the kind of leader we need whether it is in the Philippines or in the US, we need more like him.
    Keep it up Mayor Duterte

  9. Mac Flores, Jr. says:

    Sometimes the Commission on Human Rights is no longer right in protecting a criminal whose wrong doings far outweigh the criminal’s right to due process.

    If this is the case, I agree with Duterte’s brand of justice, once in a while.

    If Duterte is able to maintain peace in Davao City, the largest city in the world, can he possibly bring peace to Metro Manila (haven of kidnappers, carnappers, drug pushers, etc.) as Crime-Buster Czar?

    Or, if not in Metro Manila – can Duterte be effective in disabling the Abu Sayyap in Mindanao?

  10. George Maula says:

    I’m all for it.One sure way to teach Filipinos the power of self discipline.

  11. Philip says:

    Si Ninoy talagang maling-mali. Pati itong anak niyang bakla, pinai-ikutan ng mga corrupt niyang tauhan at wala siyang magawa. Si Digo ang dapat niyang kunin para maging Sheriff na lilipol sa lahat ng masasamang loob. Panahon na dapat palitan ang ating Pambansang Awit, “Ang pumatay (mamatay) ng sahil sa iyo.” Sorry, Ninoy mas tama si Rod.

  12. BART TUBALINAL says:

    Ano ang nararapat gawin – ang magmahal ng kriminal o todasin ang mga suwail? Should this question involve the lawmakers in Congress who knowingly caused the malversation of public funds (pork barrels) for their personal benefits and privilege? A person, in the likes of Duterte, should deal with lawmakers(kuno)like Tandang Enrile, Bong Revilla and Junggoy Estrada,the spitting image of his father.

  13. Bobby Bagos says:

    You folks better be careful what you are asking for, you might just get it. Our country had such a man, he got rid of some really bad people and he also got rid of people that he did’nt like and look what happened to our country. Now I understand why our country is so screwed up, go ahead and make this man in charge of our country, he is going to rid of the little guys but keep the ones who’s really putting the screws on our people. I’m glad I’m just another Filipino that is now on the outside looking in. If you folks really want to start with a clean slate for our country, clean the government up and please get your heads out of your asses.

  14. Alvin Guanzon says:

    I agree with Mr. Bobby Bagos, you guys just don’t understand what you are talking! We have the kind of leader like Duterte because our government institution sucks full of politicking. Instead of doing right all the people in government are inutile! Our justice, executive and legislative branch are dysfunctional!

Join the discussion

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *