Would you rather reside in Davao City?
Sherly Pamaran, a resident of Cagayan de Oro City has vigorously disagreed with my letter (“Yes, Duterte’s statement was ‘frightening’,” Opinion, 2/27/15), which pointed to Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s policy of “shoot first and ask questions later.” In fact she waxed ecstatic praising Duterte for his “efficient” management of the city of Davao (“Yes, Duterte’s statement was ‘frightening’,” Opinion, 3/12/15). Furthermore, she even suggested that I reside either in Syria or in Libya where the killings of many innocent civilians is a daily affair.
I will take Pamaran’s challenge if she would agree to transfer residence to Davao City. Not to dignify her letter further, I will simply quote relevant portions of the Wikipedia article titled “Davao death squads.”
“The Davao Death Squads or DDS, is a vigilante group active in Davao City in the Philippines. The group is allegedly responsible for summary executions of individuals suspected of petty crimes and dealing in drugs in Davao. It has been estimated that the group is responsible for the murder or disappearance of between 1,020 and 1,040 people between 1998 and 2008.
“According to Amnesty International and local human rights groups, there were over 300 people killed in Davao City by death squads between 1998 and 2005. The rate of killing accelerated after this so that between 2005 and 2008 death squads were responsible for between 700 and 720 murders. According to a 2009 report by Human Rights Watch, the victims were selected because they were suspected of being drug dealers, petty criminals and street children aged as young as 14. Amnesty International states, killings and extrajudicial executions continued throughout the year, particularly of criminal suspects.”
An investigation by Human Rights Watch found that the killings began in the mid-1990s during the second term of Mayor Duterte.
“[Duterte] has been heavily criticized by numerous organizations for condoning and even inciting murders to take place during his leadership. In the April 2009 UN General Assembly of the Human Rights Council, the UN report (Eleventh Session Agenda item 3, par 21) said, ‘The Mayor of Davao City has done nothing to prevent these killings, and his public comments suggest that he is, in fact, supportive.’ Human Rights Watch reported that in 2001-2002, Duterte appeared on local television and radio and announced the names of ‘criminals,’ some of whom were later executed. In July 2005 at a crime summit in the Manila Hotel the politician said, ‘Summary execution of criminals remains the most effective way to crush kidnapping and illegal drugs.’ In 2009 Duterte said: ‘If you are doing an illegal activity in my city, if you are a criminal or part of a syndicate that preys on the innocent people of the city, for as long as I am the mayor, you are a legitimate target of assassination’.”
Need I say more?