Monday, June 6, 2016

The Pinoy Punisher

Rodrigo Duterte (left) may be popular with the citizenry but he shoots from the hip and spews violence-spiked and profanity-laced rhetoric. 

In any case, the Philippine president-elect is due to take office on June 30, 2016, for a term of six years. 

On April 27, 2016, he had pledged to wage a "bloody war" against criminals and drug lords and even claiming that summary executions are an effective weapon to fight crime. He also said he would give security forces “shoot-to-kill” orders against organized criminals or those who violently resisted arrest. 

During his presidential campaign, Duterte boasted of being behind vigilante death squads, saying they killed 1,700 people. But at other times he denied any involvement. 

[Note: The UK's Guardian carried a news report on May 08 mentioning that Amado Picardal, a priest who has spent the past two decades documenting death squad attacks, which he says have killed 1,424 people, 132 of them minors]. 

And on May 31, Duterte endorsed killing corrupt journalists – and even maintaining that those killed on the job in the Philippines were often corrupt. He made the comments after a crime reporter was shot dead in Manila four days earlier. 

He did not mince his words when he said: “Just because you’re a journalist you are not exempted from assassination if you’re a son of a bitch”. 

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines described his remarks as “appalling”.

“He has also, in effect, declared open season to silence the media, both individual journalists and the institution, on the mere perception of corruption,” the NUJP said.

"Nothing justifies the murder of journalists," chair Ryan Rosuaro said.

Since a chaotic and corruption-plagued democracy replaced the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos three decades ago, 176 journalists have been murdered in the Philippines.

Luis Teodoro, the deputy director of the Manila-based Centre for Media Freedom and Responsibility, said Duterte’s comments sent a signal to would-be killers that it was OK to murder in certain circumstances. 

On April 12, Duterte had come under fire for a remark he made regarding Australian missionary Jacqueline Hamill, who in 1989 was held hostage, gang-raped and murdered during a prison riot in Davao City. 

Duterte had commented: “She was so beautiful. I thought, the mayor should have been first”.

And when a complaint was filed against him by a women’s group, he described it as “silly” and told its members to “go to hell”. 

He apologized one week later, saying,"Sometimes, my mouth can get the better of me".

Duterte already made international headlines for his incessant use of vulgar language, including on one occasion when he branded the pope a “son of a whore”. He had also apologized. 

[Background info: 71-year-old Duterte is the next president of the Philippines. He only managed to file his candidacy on the last possible day – he was supposed to lack the money and political machinery required for a presidential run – therefore, his rise has understandably surprised many. He has been dubbed “The Punisher” by Time as far back as 2002. He sure fits the bill! In fact, human-rights groups had alleged that “death squads” under his control were responsible for extrajudicial executions when he served as mayor of Davao for more than twenty-two years].

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