Discovering the Bizarro World of the Philippines:16 million masochists under one sadist cult leader.
Rodrigo Duterte attracts lurid headlines, but to Filipinos he’s a breath of fresh air
A self-described hitman for vigilante group the Davao Death Squad has testified that the Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte, not only ordered the murder of criminals and opponents during his 22 years as mayor of Davao City but once personally “finished off” a justice department employee with a submachine gun.
Edgar Matobato was speaking as part of an inquiry by the Senate into the killings of more than 3,000 Filipinos, said to be part of Duterte’s chaotic crackdown on drugs. To clarify: we are just three months into Rodrigo “the Punisher” Duterte’s presidency and a self-confessed assassin is alleging that, on one occasion, he fed a victim to a crocodile on behalf of the future president.
While Duterte’s obsessive war on narcotics may be horrifying to an international audience, for many Filipinos – even those ambivalent to his presidency – a “some action is better than no action” stance has made a welcome change of pace.
Duterte’s victory came as the Philippines’ drug problem was becoming so endemic that a firebrand, cartoon-character of a president taking a sledgehammer to the issue became a reasonable gamble.
While these latest allegations may sound like they’re veering into the absurd, Duterte has for the last year been spelling out his bloodlust to us quite plainly.
In April, he nonchalantly regaled crowds at a rally in Iloilo City with a story of how he shot a fellow law student for disrespecting him. It was met with gentle laughter. In May, having been pressed on the Philippines’ track record for attacks on the media, including the 2009 Maguindanao massacre, referred to as “the single deadliest event for journalists in history”, Duterte retorted: “Just because you’re a journalist you are not exempt from assassination, if you’re a son of a bitch.” Then in June, three weeks before he was sworn in as president, he cheerfully told a rally that: “If you destroy my country, I will kill you.”
But so loyal are Duterte’s devotees that everything from forgoing a motorcade in favour of local taxis or drinking beers with the locals has been seen as a radical act of humility. In the aftermath of 2013’s devastating Typhoon Haiyan, the then president, Benigno Aquino III, was accused of sitting on his hands. In contrast, Duterte was not only swift to deliver aid to Tacloban, one of the worst-hit areas but personally visited the devastation, giving a tearful speech criticising local government’s inertia.
Similarly, days after his now infamous “son of a whore” comment to President Barack Obama, a bomb blast in Davao City killed 15. Within hours of the attack, photos of Duterte at the scene talking to victims were circulating on social media, again praising him for being on the ground. As indisputably dangerous as Duterte is, he is a foul-mouthed, cracking-jokes-about-shooting-people breath of fresh air the Philippines has never experienced before.
Duterte’s mass execution of the low hanging fruit in the Philippines drug trade will serve only to highlight how drugs have filled the vacuum created by successive governments. Filipinos did not vote for Duterte; they voted for a jab at the establishment that has, for the past five decades, consistently let them down.
OVERALL RATING after 80 Days:
UNFIT to Govern
100 million Filipinos!
Does he not deserve to be judged on his record and his actions?
Senator Alan Peter Cayetano
Philippine President Duterte ‘Ordered Extrajudicial Killings When He Was a Mayor’
The claim is being made by a witness at a Senate inquiry
Edgar Matobato, 57, told the hearing — part of an inquiry being conducted by Senator Leila de Lima — that he conducted at least 50 operations during his time with the death squad and witnessed Duterte order killings himself, the Associated Press reports.
Duterte has been dogged by allegations of extrajudicial killings during his 22 years as mayor, and has adopted contradictory stances on them, officially denying involvement while also boasting that he was responsible for “1,700” deaths as opposed to the 700 documented by human-rights groups.
The allegations have now followed him into the country’s highest office, and been renewed thanks to his merciless war on drugs in which over 3,000 people have been killed since July. The drug war is the primary focus of de Lima’s inquiry, in which Matobato testified on Thursday. Duterte’s spokesperson Martin Andanar refuted Matobato’s testimony, saying previous government inquiries into Duterte’s mayoral tenure yielded no evidence of wrongdoing.
According to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Matobato also said Duterte had ordered a hit on de Lima herself, when she visited Davao in 2009. The Senator, who previously served as Secretary of Justice and chaired the Philippine Commission on Human Rights, has been the President’s staunchest critic since he took office at the end of June this year.
Quotations from Salvador Panelo, Duterte's explainer and defender of bank accounts:
"Duterte and I are outraged by any act of brutality or violation of the citizen."
"We have meeting of the minds. May mind-melt daw kami ni Duterte. Ten years ago, I advocated for the abolition of Congress, the establishment of Constitutional Dictatorship."
“It only simply means whatever that the International Tribunal decision will be, let us not come up with provocative statements that will serve no other purpose but to heighten tensions because the Philippine Constitution also mandates that we must settle our disputes peaceably through negotiations. We renounce war strictly as an instrument of national policy.” Yasay
But is war the only alternative? This is what China wants many to believe, that it is, in President Xi Jinping’s words, “not afraid of trouble.” It is unsettling to read the country’s top diplomat misunderstand the nature of, the possibilities opened up by, a diplomatic victory. Charitable view.
The harsher view is he is either naive or pro-China. Consider his explanation of President Duterte’s marching orders, that he was looking for a “soft landing” after the ruling is handed down. From INQUIRER John Nery
From GMA News:
Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa said Monday that policemen should think of their safety during operations and not get distracted by the consequences of killing resisting criminals.
“Next time ayoko ng pulis na namamatay. Dapat ang kriminal ang mamatay, hindi tayo. 'Pag kayo ay namatay walang taga-human rights na magpapakain sa mga anak ninyo, walang taga-human rights na magpapaaral sa mga anak ninyo,” Dela Rosa said in his speech before members of Calabarzon policemen police in Camp Vicente Lim in Laguna.
“Kaya you better stay alive. Bahala na ang kaso afterwards. Harapin n’yo ang kaso kung magkakakaso kayo pero ang mahalaga buhay kayo,” he added.