Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Extrajudicial killings on screen

This post is late. I should have done this a few days back. But, as they say, it's better late than never.

For his film "Engwentro" (Clash), Pepe Diokno received the Luigi de Laurentiis Award for a debut film (Lion of the Future) and Orizzonti Award (Best Film) at the 66th Venice Film Festival.

According to its website,
"Engkwentro' tells the story of Richard and Raymond, two teenage brothers on opposite sides of a gang war. Richard is the leader of his gang, ‘Bagong Buwan’ (”New Moon”) while Raymond is just being inducted into “Batang Dilim” (”Children of the Night”), a rival gang led by charming solvent boy, Tomas. Complications arise at a deadly midnight “engkwentro” (clash), when Tomas gives Raymond the task of killing his older brother.

All this happens while the City Death Squad lurks the streets. This real-life vigilante group is allegedly backed by the omnipresent Mayor Danilo Dularte Suarez, and is responsible for many unsolved murders of teen gangsters. Today, they are hunting down Richard. Will they take the younger brother, too?
"Diokno stumbled upon the inspiration for his debut full-length feature film while filming a documentary in Davao on youth behind bars for the nationalist advocacy group RockEd," said Rome Jorge, who wrote a profile of Diokno, "The vision of a new generation."

“I met these two brothers whose names are actually Richard and Raymond," Diokno was quoted as saying. "That was in 2007. I was nineteen when I was doing that documentary. The brothers I met, they were fifteen and seventeen. They were sure they were going to die as soon as they got into the detention facility. They were being chased by the Davao Death Squad [DDS].”

Congratulations to Pepe Diokno and to all the people behind the film. I'm glad that there are people like him who do not shy away from discussing this politically-charged issue through their chosen medium.

Diokno has just paved the way. I hope others will follow suit.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


After insinuating the last time that the CHR ’s public inquiry into the vigilante-style killings in Davao City is but politically motivated, a demolition job, a political harassment, 2nd District Councilor Danny Dayanghirang has now an absurd theory why the killings continue until today.

“The number of law violators in our city has not dwindled down, in fact, it is only increasing,” said Dayanghirang in his Mindanao Times Op-Ed piece, “Davao residents in the losing end,” which appeared on October 01, 2009. “This could be attributed to the never-ending investigation of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on the crimes in our city. The investigation of the CHR has made publicity to our city. Although we welcome the investigation of the CHR in order to purge the city from any misconception and to clear the name of the city, the slow paced investigation has only made the crime rate in the city grow. The criminal elements have shown its ugly head again, knowing that the investigation of the CHR would weaken the efficency of our police force.”

I’ve only had two comments:

1. Before the CHR stepped in, there has been a “rampant crime wave,” said the Human Rights Watch. If there is something we should put the blame on, among others, it is the Davao Death Squad.

“In the decade since it began operating,” said Kenneth Roth, “crime in Davao City has mushroomed ten times faster than the population. That’s not surprising, since contempt for the law breeds further lawlessness.”

Not only does DDS violate the rule of law, they also incite, if unwittingly, false hopes of immunity in others.

2. Our police can never be weakened by a mere CHR inquest—-they are not handcuffed while the CHR is continuing its inquest!