Quantcast
Latest Stories

Analysis

Assault on sheriff is abuse of power by Dutertes

By

The public outrage over the attack by Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte on a sheriff serving a court’s demolition order has blown up into a national issue involving abuse of power of elected local officials claiming autonomy from the central government.

What started as an attack on an officer of the court performing a judicial duty escalated into a full-blown controversy after Sheriff Abe Andres did the incredible thing of apologizing to the mayor, who had beaten him up after he refused her request to stay for two hours the demolition of squatter shanties in Agdao District.

The violent action by the mayor was caught live by TV cameras, establishing beyond doubt the fact of the assault on an officer of the court.

Mayor Duterte and her father, former Mayor and now Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, have turned the tables on the victim of official violence by making Andres apologize.

The Dutertes made it appear they were the offended party, not the sheriff.

It is not uncommon in the law of the jungle of the Philippine judicial system and in the relationship between powerful officials and weak bureaucrats that the latter end up the “lawbreakers,” as the more powerful enjoy impunity from prosecution and accountability.

The Dutertes took refuge behind a false populist argument that the mayor had intervened to stop a demolition notice issued by a judge on the claim that she wanted to avert a riot by angry squatters. They claimed the sheriff was unreasonable in not granting a two-hour stay of execution.

Sara Duterte further claimed she had rushed to the scene to stop the demolition after distributing relief goods to flood victims, as part of her duties to her constituents and as a manifestation of her compassion for the victims of calamities.

That is cheap populist posturing.

On the offensive

The Dutertes have now gone on an offensive to justify their violent actions and mobilize public opinion in their constituency in Davao.

The PR campaign seeks to turn the issue into a referendum approving their actions before criminal action is started by the national authorities.

Whether these claims are valid excuses or whether the sheriff’s manner of executing the demolition order justified Sara Duterte’s flare-up, it is an inescapable fact that she faces possible criminal and administrative action for assaulting an officer of the court.

Being a public official, she cannot escape accountability for acts of violence related to the discharge of her official duties—acts she can be proceeded against by either her victim, by the Department of Justice, Department of the Interior and Local Government or Supreme Court for contempt of court.

She also risks disciplinary action by the Judicial and Bar Council, of which she is a member as a lawyer.

It’s up to these institutions to take action to teach her and her political clan a lesson that abuse of power is intolerable in a society that proclaims its adherence to the rule of law and eschews the violent impulses of officials whose egos are bruised by people who refuse to obey their demands.

Ampatuan warlords

Sara Duterte is on leave and her father, Rodrigo Duterte, acts in her absence and has ably taken up the cudgels on her behalf. He claims it was only proper for the sheriff to apologize, saying the demolition was “illegal, the sheriff was not supposed to be there.”

The elder Duterte said that under Republic Act No. 7279, local governments are required to give a 30-day notice for evictions. Assuming this to be correct, it should be asked, who gave the mayor the right and the power to summarily punish other officials for acts involving discharge of their duties.

To understand where the Dutertes are coming from, it is important to know that they belong to a class of local officials who believe they have local autonomy powers that put them above the national law. They rule their provincial jurisdictions with their own set laws, which make them unaccountable to the law of the land.

The Ampatuan warlords of Maguindanao belong to this category. They operate under the state of mind that their local autonomy has given them the impunity to abuse their power.

Dangerous doctrine

The Dutertes are now making a case for this dangerous doctrine in their populist campaign for an informal referendum in Davao.

Barangay captains of Davao City have published a manifesto of support for Sara Duterte. It says the governance of the elected leaders of Davao has been “put to a test.” It adds that the people of Davao have chosen a leader who has been “defending the safety and welfare of the poor and vulnerable.”

This manifesto takes off from the creed of rule practiced by Rodrigo Duterte when he was mayor. Under his leadership, the city claims to have experienced relative peace and stability. Its crime rate dropped dramatically, prompting tourist organizations to boast that Davao “is the most peaceful city in Southeast Asia.”

He was, however, criticized by human rights groups for supposedly tolerating extrajudicial killings of criminals allegedly by Davao death squads. He denied direct involvement in those killings.

A human rights website, midfield.wordpress.com., reports a statement attributed to Duterte in February 2009: “If you are doing an illegal activity in my city, if you are a criminal or part of a syndicate that preys on the innocent people of the city, for as long as I am the mayor, you are a legitimate target of assassination.”

Abuse of power

Human rights organizations report that Duterte and other local officials have continued to deny the existence of any death squads. But in recent years, mayors and officials of other cities “have made statements justifying similar killings in their own cities.”

Davao City “is seen by some as a model for fighting crime,” according to the report. Human Rights Watch, based in New York, believed such killings had continued and perpetrators enjoyed “impunity largely because of the tolerance of, and in some cases, outright support from local authorities.”

It is not far-fetched to argue that the violent actions of Mayor Sara Duterte take a leaf from the culture of impunity engendered by the model set by ex-Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

The Davao community’s approval of the Duterte model of strongman rule does not wipe out the illegality of the assault on the officer of the court, no matter how offensive his action in serving the demolition order was to the Dutertes.

The attack was an assault on the entire judicial system.

Abuse of power is the underlying issue in this episode.


Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


More from this Column:

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte , Davao City Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte , Davao Death Squad , demolition , disbarment , Dutertes , extrajudicial killings , Judicial and Bar Council , Sheriff Abe Andres


  • Anonymous

    If I did something and the mayor will punch, i will apologize. We are not slaves mr streyt guy. We thinking people just like you, maybe you are not from Davao and that is the reason why.

  • thenickinlv

    So basically we have a mayor who is doing the right thing and she is being villianized for it. These shantys are where the poor flood victims are living, and this sheriff is an agent of evil. When is the excuse he’s ” just following orders…” not going to be accepted anymore. The Nazi’s were just following orders too.



Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
  1. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  2. Opinions split on Napoles turning state witness
  3. Delfin Lee: Blame Pag-Ibig, not me
  4. Plunder complaint filed vs PNP chief, firearms office head over license delivery deal
  5. Cedric Lee’s cohort flies out of PH despite look-out order – De Lima
  6. San Juan cops fail to arrest Cedric Lee
  7. More ‘Yolanda’ bodies found
  8. Gigi Reyes pins blame on aide
  9. Lawyer: Napoles ‘will tell all’
  10. Boy ‘sexually assaulted’ at Indonesia international school
  1. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  2. Estrada: Gigi Reyes won’t testify vs JPE
  3. Gigi Reyes pins blame on aide
  4. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  5. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  6. Bernice Lee arrested by NBI team
  7. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  8. Suspect in Vhong Navarro’s mauling wants to turn state witness – De Lima
  9. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  10. ‘Mom, I love you,’ says text from student on sinking ferry
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  4. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  5. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  6. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  7. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  8. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  9. Hammer-wielding robbers cause chaos at Philippines’ Mall of Asia
  10. Ex-PBA player Bryan Gahol dies in road mishap
Advertisement

News

  • Napoles tags over 100 officials in pork scam – Lacson
  • Vitangcol to sue Czech envoy
  • Senator’s kickback from pork bigger than those of Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – Lacson
  • 43 out of 414 Etihad passengers yet to be found, tested for MERS-CoV – Palace
  • Maid confesses in killing of 2 and stabbing of employer in Laguna
  • Sports

  • San Mig Coffee grinds out win over Alaska to force decider
  • UP nips St. Benilde; Adamson blasts RTU in Filoil women’s caging
  • Kevin Garnett responds to Raptors’ GM F word
  • Albert Pujols hits 500th HR of major league career
  • UST posts twin kill in Filoil pre-season cup opening day
  • Lifestyle

  • Entering the monkhood a rite of passage
  • Haneda International Airport: A destination on its own
  • Wanted: Beauty queen with a heart that beats for the environment
  • Kim Atienza: At home with art and design
  • Life lessons I want to teach my son
  • Entertainment

  • Bollywood Oscars, film stars come to Florida
  • Ex-Fox exec denies allegations in sex abuse suit
  • Kris Aquino backtracks, says Herbert Bautista and her are ‘best friends’
  • Summer preview: Chris Pratt enters a new ‘Galaxy’
  • Bon Jovi helps open low-income housing in US
  • Business

  • SM to rebuild Tacloban hospital
  • PSEi slips after 4-day rally
  • Toyota sells 2.58 million vehicles, outselling GM
  • McDonald’s 1Q profit slips as US sales decline
  • SEC approves SM’s P15B retail bond offer
  • Technology

  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Viber releases new design for iPhone, comes to Blackberry 10 for the first time
  • Engineers create a world of difference
  • Bam Aquino becomes Master Splinter’s son after Wiki hack
  • Mark Caguioa lambasts Ginebra teammates on Twitter
  • Opinion

  • One-dimensional diplomacy: A cost-benefit analysis of Manila’s security deal with Washington
  • No ordinary illness
  • Reforest mountains with fire trees and their kind
  • Day of the Earth
  • When will Chinese firm deliver new coaches?
  • Global Nation

  • Filipinos coming home from Mideast must obtain MERS clearance – DOH
  • US Secret Service in Manila ahead of Obama visit
  • Palace thanks Estrada for successful HK mission
  • Hong Kong accepts PH apology; sanctions also lifted
  • China won’t budge, wants PH gov’t to apologize to HK
  • Marketplace
    Advertisement