Thursday, October 25, 2012

Duterte's Chilling Proposition

The offer of a five-million-peso reward money by Davao City Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to anyone who can literally bring to his office the head of notorious carnapping (motor vehicle theft) suspect Ryan Yu – made on national TV, no less – sends a chill to the spine and speaks badly of the country’s state of law enforcement.

While this is nothing new for a man who has been dubbed by Time magazine as the “Punisher,” for his reputation for alleged extrajudicial killing of suspected criminals during his tenure as mayor of Davao City, Duterte’s offer sends the message that law enforcement in the Philippines is inept, hence the need for vigilantes to carry out the job that the police have failed to do.

Every law abiding citizen should come out and condemn this reprehensible incitement to lawlessness by no less than a public official. Duterte was actually telling the public to kill and mutilate by decapitation a man who has yet to be pronounced guilty by a court of law. Although Yu is the suspected – take note, “suspected” – mastermind of several cases of carnapping, he is no less entitled to his day in court and could only be meted with criminal punishment after he is found guilty of the crimes attributed to him. Also, Duterte was not only prescribing a penalty that has been abolished in the Philippines, but is prescribing a punishment so savage and shocking to our senses that it should have no place in civilized society.

Vigilantism, which is what Duterte was encouraging, degrades law enforcement and incites lawlessness.  While the reward system to capture suspected criminals is meant to help law enforcement, this is not exactly how it is supposed to work. For safety reasons and observance of the rule of law, private citizens should only be required to report to the authorities the whereabouts of suspected criminals and not put the law into their own hands by carrying out the arrest themselves, let alone kill the suspect!

Vice Mayor Duterte should be brought to task for his reckless and dangerous conduct. As a public official, he is duty-bound to observe his oath of fidelity to the Constitution and the rule of law. The Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees require him to refrain from doing any acts contrary to law and public order.