Thursday, September 10, 2009

Birds of the same feather won't catch each other

Now this one’s really De Lima’s dilemma:

In the September 6 episode of “Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa,” where Mayor Rody Duterte sometimes settles scores with his enemies, Mayor Duterte urged the Commission on Human Rights to come back and investigate the resurgence of killings in the streets.

“Wala na ko mogunit sa pagkasupervisor sa DCPO [Davao City Police Office],” Duterte said. “Though my resignation was not accepted, I told them that I consider myself resigned. Sukad sa CHR [Commission on Human Rights] inquiry, wala na ko misulod sa DCPO. Pero natingala ko ngano man padayon gihapon ang patay?”

On March 30, 2009, the CHR conducted a highly publicized public inquiry into the killings in Davao City that have gone unabated since 1998. Leila De Lima, the CHR’s feisty chairperson, squarely put the blame on Mayor Duterte’s shoulders for his failure to stop the killings, if not for aiding the criminals.

Ostensibly to give the CHR a free hand in its inquiry, Mayor Duterte resigned as a supervisor of the DCPO on March 31. His resignation, however, was rejected by DILG Secretary Ronaldo Puno, saying it’s against the mandate of the law.

Now five months after the CHR started the public inquiry, it seems Mayor Duterte is laying the blame at the foot of CHR Chair Leila De Lima.

In August alone, there were 13 people killed; in September, five. Mayor Duterte asked the CHR to explain the killings. Surely somebody else is responsible for them, and it certainly not him, contrary to the allegations, because he has already given up control over the police.

“Mangutana ko karon, ngano man padayon lang gihapon ang patay?” Duterte asked. “Is there somebody behind it? Is there somebody trying to create a chaotic condition? Is there somebody who wants to pain a picture of Davao City as killing fields?

“I leave it to the CHR to please come back to Davao City and investigate more. I’d like the human rights to come back and tell us what is this all about?”

It’s clever of him to say those words because it effectively cast the CHR in a bad light. It’s as if Mayor Duterte is saying that the commission made a wrong decision by asking him to distance himself from the police, from whose ranks the DDS gunmen allegedly come. It’s as if he’s saying that the commission should let him do his own thing because it’s the only way to deal with the city’s criminality. Otherwise, the situation just might go berserk.

Yet Mayor Duterte’s remarks have only highlighted an anomaly in his administration. The City Mayor’s Office has at its disposal a P450 million budget for Peace and Order. Of this amount, the mayor can disburse as much as 1.2 million daily if needed. “Whith this enormous sum of public funds given to…the city mayor to maintain peace and order in the community,” said Mindanao Daily Mirror columnist Bert Tesorero, “there is no reason why street killings would go unabated for almost a decade now without a single case solved by the police.”

The police cannot be accused of ineptitude, either.

There is probably one reason why the police find it hard to stamp out the killings. According to the report of the New York-based Human Rights Watch, “You Can Die Anytime,” most members of the DDS are policemen, ex-policemen, rebel returnees, military personnel, and jobless youths who were involved “in a bit of drug pushing.”

“The DDS…,” it further noted, “is run by handlers. Such a handler is called the amo (boss). The amo is usually a policeman or ex-policeman, and in some cases, a barangay official…A local journalist, who has been investigating extrajudicial killings in Davao City for almost ten years, believed that all handlers report to the police precinct commander in their area who distributes money for “operations” and reports, in turn, to an official in the city government—‘the big boss.’”

Despite these damning revelations, police and military officers denied that they are by no means involved in the killings.

If, however, the police are involved in the killings, as claimed by the Human Rights Watch, then how can we expect them to get after the criminals if the criminals themselves come from their own ranks?


  1. Even if Duterte ostentatiously relinquished his supervision over the DCPO, no policeman would dare disobey his orders – legal or otherwise. And the beauty of it is that he can actually sabotage Davao's peace and order by allowing crimes to happen so that the Davaoeños will blame the CHR for attacking their mayor and causing his 'resignation' as deputized Napolcom representative, resulting in criminals gaining courage to walk the streets again. Who are you kidding, Mayor?