UPHOLD THE RULE OF LAW
Church and human rights leaders in Cebu balked at the possibility that the Rodrigo Duterte administration will herald an era of extra-judicial killings of criminals amid repeated pronouncements from the incoming president about his readiness to kill anyone who will refuse to reform their ways.
For some of her allies, however, Duterte’s statement of killing as a solution to crime and drugs may be interpreted as saying that only those who will fight the authorities will be killed.
Msgr. Joseph Tan, spokesman of the Cebu Archdiocese, said that while it is the government’s task to protect the well-being of its citizens, it should not be used as a license to summarily kill crime suspects, no matter how notorious they might be.
“The President is, of course, forcefully emphasizing a point. But we trust that he will act according to the norms allowed by law,” he said.
Tan also contradicted Duterte’s statement that prayers could not solve anything.
“There is a saying also that prayer compliments work but does not replace it, and work may find in prayer its right motivation,” he said.
Duterte, in his 42-minute speech during the thanksgiving party for his supporters at the Sugbo grounds in South Road Properties (SRP) on Saturday night, reminded the bishops and priests that not everything could be solved by praying, saying that even the most prayerful, when hungry could become a theft just to put food on the table.
Duterte also believed that only a touch policy could solve the illegal drugs problem in the country, given reports that shabu is even manufactured by jailed drug lords in prisons, under the protection of jail and police authorities.
“Moingon sila nga kini si Duterte, berdugo. It’s giving us a bad name. Really? Moingon sa gawas, berdugo, extra-judicial killing. Really? How about kini imong presohan dunay galuto? Hain man ang mas uwaw ana ug akoy mopatay aning mga p… ina ni? Di ba? Hain man ang mas makauwaw?”
(They say that Duterte is an executioner. It’s giving us a bad name. Really? They say, executioner, extra-judicial killing. But how about those prisons where they cooked shabu? What should be more shameful than me killing those sons of b…? What should be more shameful?)
Duterte likewise pointed out that policemen, even generals, would not be spared if they are found involved in the illegal drug trade.
To these men in uniform, he said: “They have to go. Pili lang mo ug unsang klaseng go inyong gusto. Go to hell, go to heaven, go somewhere else. Ayaw ko ninyo binuangi. Presidente ko. Maay(o’)g pitsugon ning taga-Danao.”
(They have to go. They can choose where they want. Go to hell, go to heaven, go somewhere else. Don’t make a fool out of me. I am the President. People from Danao are not small fries.)
Duterte’s father was from Danao City in Cebu’s fifth district and a relative of the Durano clan, which holds sway over the district.
But as far as human rights group Karapatan in Central Visayas was concerned, Duterte need not declare a “war” against drugs since it is a “matter of public policy” that government and all law enforcement agencies should eliminate the drug menace.
Karapatan-Cebu secretary general Dennis Abarrientos said that Duterte, as president, should be the first person to uphold the rule of law and thus all his actions should be in accordance with the law.
“Those suspected of involvement, like in other crimes as corruption, must be punished in accordance with our laws,” he stressed.
“And our laws prohibit extra-judicial killings of suspects and death penalty for convicts,” he added.
However, Cordova Mayor Adelino Sitoy, a friend of the incoming president, believed that killing of criminals could only happen if they fight the authorities or resist arrest.
He said this was the missing premise that Duterte failed to point out in his speeches, including the one he delivered during his thanksgiving party for his supporters here on Saturday night.
Being a lawyer himself, Duterte knows that killing drug lords, drug pushers or criminals is justified only if they fight the police in an encounter, added Sitoy.
“Wala may gilapas nga balaod ana (No law is being violated),” he told CEBU DAILY NEWS in a phone interview yesterday.
Sitoy agreed with Duterte that drugs and criminality should be eliminated by all means.
“Kinahanglan na ta og (we need) surgery . . . While we respect human rights and the dogma of the church, kinahanglan nga ang evil ma-eliminate by all means aron ma-achieve ang peace,” he explained.
According to Sitoy, a criminal need not die, just like in the case of Alvaro “Barok” Alvaro, tagged as Cebu province’s number one drug lord who surrendered last week to the National Bureau of Investigation in Bohol.
He said Barok surrendered and he was not killed. This will be the same, he said, for those who will surrender.
“Way mopatay sa mo-surrender (No one will kill those who surrender),” he said.
Yesterday, just hours after the incoming president’s pronouncement at the thanksgiving party, a confessed drug peddler operating in Barangay Lorega, Quirico Mangyao Jr., gave himself up to Cebu City Mayor-elect Tomas Osmeña, saying he feared for his life due to Duterte’s and Osmeña’s tough anti-drug policy. (See story on page 2.)
Osmeña, like Duterte, has been an unapologetic proponent of gunning down criminals who are either caught in the act or resisting arrest.
Outgoing Talisay City Mayor Johnny Delos Reyes, who was present during the speech of Duterte at Sugbo grounds, likewise agreed that killing criminals in legitimate operations is justified, even as he also believed in giving a second chance to those who wish to reform.
For Cebu Provincial Board Member Sun Shimura, Duterte’s statement on killings could be interpreted as just his “style” of disciplining people and should not be taken literally.
“I think the way Duterte speaks about patay-patay, murag dili man na literal na patyon. Let’s just say it’s a way of his style of discipline,” he said.
In his speech on Saturday, Duterte said his zero tolerance for crime and corruption means that those who would not want to reform are courting their own death.
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