Monday, June 8, 2009

Davao Death Squad's presence brings no good

Whether in the digital or in the real world, it is not rare at all to read or hear words of praises for the (dis)service the Davao Death Squad (DDS) has been doing for the city. In YouTube, for example, where a report on DDS by Chris Rogers of ITV-CNN is posted, one reads from a certain darkskyBAO this comment:
I'm a firm believer when it comes to absolute justice. Despite many would detest their disapproval over the "shadowy" group we have to admit that the things they do greatly benefit the safety and order of Davao. The end justifies the means; all criminals no matter how big or just petty hooligans, be it a underage delinquent or not as long as they are deemed a threat in the face of our country. We must not hesitate more. I wish some one like these would be placed in Sulu and Metro Manila.
Many people--DavaoeƱos and non-DavaoeƱos alike--share this most cherished belief of darkskyBAO. Since the DDS, they are led to believe, started to complement or take over--not sure which one--the job (that of busting criminals) that solely belongs to the state, the crime rate in the city decreased. No less than the city government is proud of this feat.

But has the city's crime rate really dropped down since DDS began its operation?

No, said Human Rights Watch in its report "You Can Die Anytime." Rebutting the city's claim that "From a 3-digit crime rate per 10,000 people in 1985, Davao has reached an almost Utopian environment with a monthly crime volume of 0.8 cases per 10,000 persons from 1999 up to 2005", the HRW report said:
These descriptions attempt to conceal a rampant crime wave—namely, the murder of hundreds of alleged drug dealers, petty criminals, and street children.

More importantly, by averaging out years of statistics and omitting most recent years, they belie the city’s sharp upward trend in crime rates over the last decade. According to statistics from the police, between 1999 and 2008, the population in Davao City grew from 1.12 million to 1.44 million, or by 29 percent. Meanwhile, the number of annual crime incidents during this period rose from 975 to 3,391, or by 248 percent.21 These numbers show that, contrary to the city government’s self-proclaimed success, its tough anti-crime campaign has failed to curve crime rates. An increasing number of death squad killings appears to have contributed to worsening crime rates in the city.
If it were true, and I believe it is, it only shows that, contrary to many a people's belief, lawlessness only breeds further lawlessness. So we must disabuse ourselves from thinking that the presence of DDS is good because, in reality, it's not.

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