I was never sold on the idea of the Davao Death Squads executing and salvaging “criminals.” The notion that it is the failure of the legal process that has encouraged the existence of the DDS, the idea that it is the failure of the law to bring these criminals to justice that justifies these extrajudicial killings, just does not fly with me.
If there’s something wrong with the legal system, it seems that the correct step is to fix that system. All the energy spent supporting the DDS could be better spent changing the system that has failed to protect citizens from crime. Maybe then Davao could take pride in its peace and order situation, instead of becoming a place where human rights are irrelevant, extrajudicial killings are justifiable, and murdering citizens is the right of the State.
The State, yes. Because in a recent interview, Mayor Rodrigo Duterte claimed that he was with DDS, and that he was responsible for the killings.
Duterte: Ako, ako daw ang death squad.
Host: How do you react to that?
Duterte: Tinuod (true).
Host: DDS is responsible for the killings?
Duterte: Tinuod nga. Alam mo kung baket? Gusto ko sila pumunta rito. There’s no need for you to to the Ombudsman, there is no requirement to go to the Human Rights. File directly in court. Then I’ll place you under oath. Just execute an affidavit. Then I’ll call you when it’s my time for cross-examination. And I will show to the world how stupid you are.
Duterte: Alam mo ito, kapag ako nag-Presidente, I will warn you, I do not covet the position. But if I become President, magtago na kayo, ‘yang 1,000 na yan it will reach 50,000. I will kill all of you who make the life of Filipinos miserable. Papatayin ko talaga kayo. Kase manalo ako dahil sa breakdown sa law and order eh. I do not want to commit a crime. But if by chance, God will place me there, magbantay kayo, because itong 1,000 na ito magiging 100,000. Diyan niyo makikita na tataba yung isda sa Manila Bay. Dahil diyan ko kayo itapon.
Duterte: I do not want to be President. I do not want to kill people. So do not elect me as President.
These statements are distressing to say the least. That it is even acceptable to Duterte’s public, is also a measure of how that public has failed at taking a stand against this violence, because they have been promised “paradise.” That they are pushing that he run for President is just sad.
A crowd-sourced rating site has declared Davao the 9th safest city in the world. One would think that for a city that kills of anyone who is deemed “evil” that it would be at number 1. One also wonders if any of those countries that are higher on the list condone extrajudicial killings and vigilante death squads the way Davao does.
DDS and Duterte meanwhile have always been critiqued and scrutinized by human rights organizations and the Department of Justice, and families of victims of extrajudicial killings and summary executions have always spoken out about their own rights as violated. Malacañang spoke up against Duterte when he threatened rice smugglers with death if they set foot in Davao in 2014; Presidential Spokesperson Sonny Coloma said: “Killing a person is against the law. The President has been firm in the belief that no one is above the law. We must not resort to extralegal methods.”
But Duterte is unfazed. Responding to a May 21 statement from Human Rights Watch Asia that his “public support for the extrajudicial killings of suspected criminals should prompt a long overdue investigation into Duterte’s possible role in those deaths” Duterte said:
“To all the bleeding hearts of US-based crime watch: You want a taste of justice, my style? Come to Davao City, Philippines, and do drugs in my city. I will execute you in public. And finally, you S.O.B’s, I offer no excuses nor do I apologize. So be it.”
On TV today, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas was shown shaking hands with the people of Davao, where he had paid a visit to Mayor Duterte. They purportedly did not talk about politics or the 2016 elections. Though the bigger question is: why isn’t the Interior Secretary taking a stand against how this mayor has condoned extrajudicial killings and summary executions? Why isn’t the Liberal Party’s top pick for President not disturbed at all by Duterte’s admission that he is, in fact, the DDS?
Duterte is a man who promised to deal with students who cut school by beating their legs with a hammer until they cannot walk straight anymore.
Not only is Duterte unfit to be President. No presidentiable — least of all Roxas — should be equating himself with Duterte. In fact he should be taking a stand against this man. Maybe then he’d get some of the pogi points he needs to start ranking higher in the surveys.