Duterte encourages vigilantism, 'torture culture', says CHR

Posted at 02/05/2014 11:17 AM | Updated as of 02/05/2014 11:32 AM

MANILA - Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte is encouraging a culture of impunity, lawlessness and vigilantism in his city and should be punished for making death threats against smugglers, the Commission on Human Rights said Wednesday.

Speaking to ANC's Headstart, CHR Chairwoman Loretta Ann Rosales said Duterte's death threat against alleged smuggler David Bangayan encourages people to take shortcuts with the law.

She said Duterte should face charges for making the threat, and said senators who allowed the threats to be made are no help.

"I think we should call the attention of this official. This public official should in fact have his day in court. Somebody should do something. Charge him if ever because as I said he in fact allows for this and tolerates and encourages this climate of impunity. Walang kaparusahan sa mga karahasan na ginagawa mo. Sa Pilipino yun ang ibig sabihin nun," she said.

"Senators who just allow for this and say 'O, ganun naman talaga yan e' - do not help in any way. This is why your climate of impunity continues because the old boys' club is there among the elites," she added.

Duterte earlier told a Senate rice smuggling probe that he will not hesitate to kill alleged smuggler David Bangayan a.k.a. David Tan if he catches him in the act of smuggling rice shipments to Davao City.

"If this guy would go to Davao and start to unload, pag nakita ko siya in the commission of a crime, I will gladly kill him...Siyempre hihintayin ko siyang lumabas. Pag lumaban ito and he puts up a good fight, I will not hesitate. I will do it for my country," he said.

He described Tan as the central figure in rice smuggling in the country, with the power to bring smuggled goods to ports in Davao City, Manila, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro and Batangas.

Rosales, however, said that instead of making death threats against Bangayan, the mayor should instead announce that he will arrest rice smugglers and "let the full brunt of the law be inflicted on the suspect."

She said that by making the threats, Duterte is taking a populist approach that could lead to a rise in a culture of impunity and even torture.

"He reminds me of cowboys and Indians, di ba? The Wild Wild West. Parang ganun siya e. Macho. Bida ako e. And he is so popular in Davao City...He is popular because he takes on a populist approach which is - he reflects the sentiments of the crowd, of the people and I am one of them myself. I am frustrated with the criminal justice system except for one difference. He is a public official. He is paid taxpayers' money to do the job of administration and governance over his jurisdiction, which is the city," she said.

"He should abide by the rule of law. When you take shortcuts, that is already unlawful. Or when you even call on about taking shortcuts ito ang dapat gawin, etc, etc, you are actually sending the wrong signals, to invite...lawlessness and vigilantism. Utak pulbura that result in torture cases like the wheel of torture
that took place in Biñan," she added.

In the interview, the rights chief said Duterte's mindset is typical of the one established and internalized by security forces during the martial law regime of President Ferdinand Marcos.

She said that under Marcos, the integrated police was allowed to inflict torture on criminal suspects in order to extract information from them.

She noted that torture was also inflicted on cadets, which then encourages more torture in the future.

The CHR earlier investigated some 200 extrajudicial killings from 2005 to 2009 in Davao City, which were allegedly conducted by the so-called Davao Death Squad.

The investigation revealed a "systematic practice of extrajudicial killings in Davao City" and the systematic failure of local officials to conduct any meaningful investigation into the deaths.

The rights body has recommended to the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate "the possible administrative and criminal liability of Mayor Duterte for his inaction in the face of evidence of numerous killings committed in Davao City and his toleration of the commission of those offenses."