Anticrime group brings self to low point
The support of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) for the candidacy of Mayor Rodrigo Duterte is a low point in the good record of this organization’s fight against crime and corruption.
Whether Duterte is directly responsible for the death of suspected criminals in Davao City or not, VACC’s endorsement of this pope-cursing foul mouth’s candidacy for president has the VACC stuck in a contradiction.
How this group could align itself with Duterte, who has been scored several times by the Philippines’ Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and linked in a United Nations human rights report to the existence of the so-called Davao Death Squads, is very difficult to understand. VACC exists to bring criminals and corrupt persons to justice, not to promote the candidacy of a person who supports extrajudicial killings and one-man rule.
Many times, both the CHR and the Human Rights Watch (HRW) have denounced Duterte for actively supporting the killing of alleged criminals without due process. Duterte has never denied his active support for the existence of vigilante-type groups in Davao City. In fact, he himself has expressed his readiness to execute criminals. In one Senate hearing regarding rice smuggling, he unashamedly declared: “If this guy would go to Davao and starts to unload (smuggled rice)… I will gladly kill him.” On another occasion, displeased over the reported arrest and subsequent release of a drug lord in Manila, Duterte reportedly said: “Here in Davao, you can’t go out alive. You can go out , but inside a coffin. Is that what you call extrajudicial killing? Then I will just bring a drug lord to a judge and kill him there, that will no longer be extrajudicial.”
As a reminder to the leaders of VACC, allow me to quote Philem Kine, deputy director of HRW’s Asia Division: “Duterte’s boastful brand of violent impunity should be a path to prosecution, not a platform for political office. Until the government adopts a zero-tolerance attitude toward public officials who publicly endorse extrajudicial killings as an acceptable approach to governance, Duterte and others like him will pose a grave danger to the safety of the citizens they are elected to protect.”
As if this were not horrific enough, politicians who are presumed to be champions of democratic ideals and the rule of law, such as Senators Koko Pimentel and Alan Peter Cayetano, support Duterte. The two honorable senators distinguished themselves in exposing Vice President Jejomar Binay’s alleged corrupt practices in a series of Senate hearings. Like these two senators, VACC has irrevocably tarnished its reputation by supporting Duterte’s presidential bid. Indeed, how can VACC go so low? How can it lose its way?
There is a saying in Latin, “corruption optimi pessima.” (Loose translation: “When good persons become bad, they become very bad.”)
—CARLOS ISLES, email@example.com
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