(Fr. Shay's columns are published in The Manila Times,
in publications in Ireland, the UK, Hong Kong, and on-line.)
The television images tell it all, imagine how it was last July 1, Davao City Mayor Sarah Duterte, daughter of the all-powerful and most feared former Mayor, Rodrigo Duterte (now vice-mayor), is surrounded by a crowd of followers and security personnel. She is agitated, she wants her authority and position to be respected and obeyed without question.
The sheriff has been told by her to delay a court-approved demolition of a squatters' community for whom the city administration has failed to provide a resettlement site for as required by law. Perhaps she wants the squatters to think she is their saviour and champion rather than part of their problem.
The sheriff, an important official of the court, did not delay the demolition. The Youtube video shows the young well built lady Mayor, her face grim and angry at her will being thwarted.
With an impatient wave of her hand at the trembling middle-aged sheriff, as if to say, "Come here, over here". The sheriff reluctantly and fearfully approaches and suddenly the mayor's iron fist lashes out and delivers a rapid hail of blows to his face and eyes, he turns and staggers away and mayor pursues and delivers some more punches to the back of his neck. The squatters burst into cheers.
Wiser officials attempt to stop her but she shouts childlike, "I don't like, I don't like", and pursues her quarry and orders some body guards to go get him. They appear to grab him by the arms and drag him back towards the Mayor as if to take some more punches. There the Youtube video ends. The sheriff ended up in hospital after he apologized to his assailant. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hL3cEEmATE
The incident is a keyhole view of a greater problem, not unlike the Middle East where the rule of the many by the few is tyranny and all dissent is met by bullets.
The maundering mayor incident has ignited discussion on the impunity of the tyrannical rule of the Filipino elites and how family dynasties can manipulate elections and trample the rights of their opponents. Death awaits those who challenge their arrogance, privilege and life above the law. The poor citizen doesn't have a chance of getting justice or real democracy.
Sara Duterte, the pugilistic punishment-delivering Mayor, has been merely held liable of misconduct by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) but she faces no sanction. Is it because the Duterte family delivered Davao, the third largest city, to President Aquino in the May 2010 elections? Davao has a long sordid and shameful history of unsolved assassinations of citizens by "death squads" but it has been brushed under the carpet.
The bodies have piled up over the years, even street kids and youth have not been spared from the bloody hit squad. As many as 800 or more victims have been found murdered. Even street kids have been shot dead by vigilante gunmen riding motorbikes. No one has been tried or convicted for these killings in the past 20 years.
This bloody solution to perceived social or political threats in the "democratic" Philippines is not confined to Davao City but is common in other cities, several have their "dirty Harry" gun happy mayors and torturing cops. Bahrain, Syria and Libya are not the only places where tyrants shoot the citizens to quell dissent and protest.
Former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (now a member of congress), and her administration had a dangerous alliance with the most corrupt and bloody-minded family dynasty in Maguindanao - the Ampatuan clan, led by patriarch Andal Ampatuan and his eldest son former governor Zaldy Ampatuan, all are now on trial.
He and eight members of the family are among 197 charged with the multiple murders of 57 people, political rivals and journalists. The Aquino administration may allow Zaldy Ampatuan to turn state witness against Arroyo, in election fraud. Many fear his alleged crimes may be reduced to “misconduct” like that of Duterte. President Aquino (so far corruption free), might overlook the alleged crimes of Zaldy Ampatuan. If he does, there will be no limit to tyranny. END
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