Philippines under Rodrigo Duterte Part II

By | June 14, 2021

The man

Rodrigo Roa Duterte was born on March 28, 1945 in Maasin on the island of Leyte, which belongs to the Central Philippine Visayas group, as the son of a lawyer and later a politician and a teacher. When his parents moved to Davao on the largest southern island of Mindanao in 1949, the young Rodrigo first attended the Santa Ana elementary school and then the Holy Cross College in nearby Digos. He was thrown from school twice for misconduct – including from the Jesuit-run Ateneo de Davao University High School.

Between 1968 and 1972 Duterte studied political science in Manila at the Lyceum of the Philippines and law at the San Beda College of Law, where he also took his exams. Fellow students from those years described him as a “hot head” who was by no means averse to fighting a street fight. That was mostly the case when he was teased as a “Provincialian” from the Visayas. (To this day, many Filipinos from the northern main island of Luzon with the capital Manila like to look down on their compatriots from the central Visayas archipelago and southern Mindanao – manifest expression of a colonial mentality founded under the longstanding Spanish and US rule.) During his studies in Manila he was temporarily active in the left youth movement, which he likes to boast about today, whenever and when it seems opportune to him. By the mid-1980’s, “Digong” had worked his way up to the position of public prosecutor in Davao City. All “Digong” was missing was a political career like that of his father. Vicente Duterte had made it to the position of mayor of Danao on the island of Cebu and was even governor of the then undivided province of Davao from 1959 to 1965.

At the time, the city was a hothouse of violence, where staunch anti-communist vigilante groups, incited by manic-repressive radio commentators and officers of the Philippine armed forces, hunted down (alleged) members and sympathizers of the New People’s Army (NPA), the guerrilla organizations of the Communist Party (CPP)), did. The latter, in turn, were temporarily so firmly anchored in Davao’s Agdao district that it was referred to as a “Nicaragdao” – based on the Sandinista in Nicaragua. At the same time, an internal party purge known as the “Garlic Campaign” had resulted in hundreds of comrades being tortured and executed as alleged army informants or as so-called “deep-penetration agents”.

The mayor

Immediately after the ” People Power Revolution “, which has been extolled at home and abroad”During the course of which the Marcos dictatorship ended in February 1986, Duterte enjoyed a graceful moment. The Marcos successor, President Corazon C. Aquino, appointed him temporary deputy mayor. 1988 was the year of the inexorable rise of the city – and provincial prince “Digong”, who was elected as mayor for the first time that year. From then until the end of June 2016 he himself and / or his two children Sara and Paolo sat and still sit at the levers of power in the coastal city of Davao – either as mayor or vice mayor. In between, “Digong” represented the first district of the city as a congressman in Manila. The respective presidents offered him the post of interior minister four times, and four times he turned down this offer.

“Digongs” recipe for success? Quite simply, the mayor replied back in the 1990’s: “During election times, I keep telling people in no uncertain terms: If you want a mayor who doesn’t kill criminals, look for someone else.” Business people in particular valued Digong’s sense of “city beautification” and “security”. Beggars, street children and petty criminals were a thorn in the side of the mayor. For him they were “rabble” that had to be “eliminated”. Extensive research by Human Rights Watch (HRW, New York) brought some machinations “Digongs” to light and let the organization come to the conclusion that he was at least the work of the “Davao Death Squad”.

According to ethnicityology, the DDS has committed well over 1,000 murders since the 1990’s, according to Phelim Kine, deputy director of HRW’s Asia department. Most of the victims were children and adolescents whose “crime” consisted in loitering in busy marketplaces or in front of popular shopping centers. Many of these murders were carried out on behalf of members of the city administration. In some cases, henchmen would have done this for only 500 Pesos (about ten euros), former DDS members told HRW on the record. “Their actions (were) coordinated with the police so that they were nowhere to be found where the death squad was operating,” said the HRW report “You can die anytime”, published in 2009(“You can die at any time”): “Members need nothing to fear because the law enforcement officers are also their bosses who will immediately take care of the release,” the report says.

“Digong’s” message, quoted in the leading article of the Philippine Daily Inquirer published in Manila on May 23, 2015, was also valid for “unteachable people” such as “rice pushers, drug dealers, kidnappers, car thieves” or “corrupt police officers”: “I break you the bones. – I will execute you. – I will kill you. – Not in Davao or I will kill you. ” Most DavaoeƱos trusted their mayor and stood by him, who preferred to be photographed as a staunch “Law and Order” man with a broom, a pistol or a machine gun at the ready. Today not only DavaoeƱos hope that their “Digong”

In addition to HRW, Amnesty International and national human rights organizations such as Karapatan have repeatedly urged the governments in Manila to investigate the executions in Davao. Nothing or strange happened. In 2012, based on its own investigations, the State Human Rights Commission advised the Ombudsman’s office to investigate Duterte’s murder. The ombudsman then only initiated proceedings against 21 police officers for “neglect of duty”. Their fines were overtaken by an appeals court; the evidence was too scant, it found. No proceedings have been initiated against Duterte, and all murders have so far gone unpunished. Justice Minister de Lima’s curved club also dashed into the void. During her tenure under President Aquino she operated – under pressure from above? – Care for “monsters”. The mayor always defended his police officers with the argument that they could not be “castrated” in the “necessary fight against crime”.

Conrado de Quiros, long-time columnist for the Philippine Daily Inquirer, concluded his (almost prophetic) article on Duterte, published on July 16, 2013, with the words: “After Marcos we now have Duterte. Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely: never let us do that forgotten. Look at Duterte – scary. Be careful. Be warned, be very vigilant. ”

Philippines under Rodrigo Duterte