By Raïssa Robles
It’s a talent that probably persuaded many Filipinos to accept extra-judicial killings as THE solution to crime.
In a speech on July 27 during the oath taking of the League of Cities and Provinces officers, Duterte narrated what he personally witnessed when criminality spiked in Davao City (bold face mine):
“Ang problema ‘yung binigyan ng armas lahat, everybody was holding a licensed gun. Umuso na ‘yung criminality. Kasi ‘yung… ang style nila noon sa Davao: Umakyat sila ng bahay. ‘Yung mga mayaman, iho-hold nila, at maghingi sila ng ransom. Hindi man maibigay kaagad kasi pera mo nasa bangko. And you know in the bank you cannot withdraw one million, two million, three million at one time para ibigay mo doon sa kidnappers. So they stayed in the house. They just while away their time, raping the wife, raping the maids and the daughters.
Kaya ‘yun ang umpisa ng rage ko diyan sa criminality. Eh, prosecutor ako eh. Akalain mo pagdating ng droga ‘yun na. Nagre-rape ng bata. Pinapatay ‘yung tatay. Sinusuntok ‘yung nanay kung hindi magbigay ng pera. Alam ninyo ‘yan. Nagnanakaw.”
Curious about his mentioning his job as a prosecutor, I checked out when he occupied that post.
According to the official website president.gov.ph
“He served as special counsel and later on became a city prosecutor at the City Prosecutor’s Office in Davao City from 1977 until 1986, when he was appointed as OIC Vice Mayor of Davao City.”
What does this mean? It means in describing the heinous criminality in Davao back then, Duterte neglected to mention that the criminality prevailed at the height of Ferdinand Marcos’ Martial Law.
That’s right. At a time when a dictator ruled with an iron fist over a regime that could – and did – arrest, torture and kill anybody it wanted, there was still massive criminality.
Remember Martial Law? Ferdinand Marcos held the power over who would live and who would die. He could order the arrest, torture and killing of anyone. His first execution – by firing squad no less – was that of a Chinese drug lord named Lim Seng. It’s all documented in our book, Marcos Martial Law: Never Again, published by Filipinos for a Better Philippines.
And yet here is Duterte, a prosecutor at that time, saying in effect that despite the iron fisted rule of Marcos, criminality still flourished
During Martial Law the Marcos propaganda machine (of which Francisco Tatad was for eight years a key player) tried to portray the Philippines as nearly crime free. All civil liberties and human rights were taken away from all citizens, except those close to the Marcoses. At least 3,257 Filipinos were murdered in state-sponsored killings; over 35,000 tortured, tens of thousands illegally detained and several thousands disappeared and have never been found.
Despite this, the state’s ability to kill with impunity did not deter criminals.
Because Martial Law turned law enforcers and the military into unaccountable torturers and killers, quite a number of crimebusters became themselves criminals. This happened, according to Senator Panfilo Lacson whom I interviewed for the book, just months after Martial Law was imposed,
Fast forward to today: The way dead bodies keep turning up in the streets these days is reminiscent of the theater of cruelty portrayed by vigilante-style killings during Martial Law outside Metro Manila, specially in Mindanao, Samar, Quezon, Negros and many places in the rural areas.
And yet, according to President Duterte’s own stories of crimes when he was still a state prosecutor, despite Marcos’ iron grip on the nation, crime continued unabated. The crime wave during Martial Law was of such magnitude and horrendousness that a young city prosecutor named Rodrigo Duterte was enraged by them.
By the way, this is what we wrote in our book about the crime situation during Martial Law:
“Poverty, unemployment, malnutrition had increased.
Even law and order deteriorated. Quoting Marcos regime statistics, (history professor Alfred) McCoy pointed out that
…crime rebounded in the latter years of Marcos’s rule. At the beginning of Martial Law in 1972, violent crimes cropped from a 3.0 per hundred thousand to 1.5, remaining low until 1977. But then they began a steady rise to over 7.2 by 1983, more than double the rate before Martial Law. In the last five years of the Marcos regime, the police population ratio dropped steadily — down to 1:1,120 by 1985 — while serious crime continued to rise.”
By 1985, peace and order had so deteriorated that even the police had to admit that an “Index Crime” was being committed every five minutes. The police defined an Index Crime as a serious crime such as murder, homicide, robbery or rape that was being reported “with a certain regularity so as to be used as an index of the actual levels of criminality”.
The police also said crimes against property were occurring every 11 minutes; and crimes against chastity every six hours. Teodulo Natividad, Chief of the National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM), was even quoted as saying that these figures were understated, since not everyone was reporting crime incidents to them.
This is stunning proof that the iron fist is not the answer to stamping out crime.
Of course President Duterte did not tell his audience when the crimes that he so graphically described took place. So the audience probably assumed these had happened after the Marcoses had been overthrown.
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Those who voted for Duterte were impressed by his promise to make the rest of the country as peaceful and crime-free as Davao City where he had been mayor for over 22 years.
And yet, despite his being mayor there, a recent dragnet operation of drug addicts and pushers in Davao City still resulted in the surrender of 1,299 users and nine pushers.
Weren’t they afraid of Mayor Duterte? Why didn’t his anti-drug campaign make Davao drug-free?
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Duterte’s drastic solution to crime is supported by at least a third of the voting population. They elected him president based on his crime platform.
I can understand why his solution is so attractive to many Filipinos who fear for the safety of their sons and daughters as soon as they step out of the house.
But Duterte’s solution brings with it a different set of problems.
Anyone is now at risk of being “mistaken” for a drug pusher or being at the wrong place at the wrong time, especially if one has a drug addict or pusher for a neighbor.
The Facebook Community Page, Philippines Defence Forces Forum gave this bit of advice to EVERYONE in order to be avoid becoming a casualty of Duterte’s war on drugs:
Minimize your chances of becoming #collateraldamage in the ongoing war on drugs:
If you have a known or rumored mid-level illegal drug personality in your neighborhood who owns a car similar in color, brand and model to yours, ditch your car.
Tell your family members not to hitch a ride with known or rumored drug personalities.
Alter your appearance if your facial features and build have similarities with known or rumored drug personalities in your community.
If you were involved in an altercation with political personalities or barangay officials, be extra careful and check if your name has been included in the list. Some officials have listed their personal enemies even if they are not involved in illegal drugs.
Do not expect the liquidation teams deployed throughout the country to scrutinize whether the targets in their #killlist are really involved in illegal drugs.