Poe cautions Duterte on death threat
MANILA, Philippines—Children might be listening.
Sen. Grace Poe on Tuesday cautioned Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte about the effects of his publicly declared threat to kill suspected rice smuggler David Bangayan if he tried to smuggle goods into the country through his city.
Poe, former chair of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board, said children who heard his threats might think it was proper for one to take the law into one’s own hands.
“I think he said it out of emotion and disgust and his frustration,” Poe told reporters when asked about the propriety of Duterte’s remarks made in a Senate hearing on rice smuggling on Monday.
“But let’s also remember that kids might be listening and they don’t comprehend the whole story. Perhaps, they’ll think it’s OK to do so,” Poe added.
Duterte, who earlier identified the mysterious smuggler David Tan as businessman Davidson Bangayan, told senators on the agriculture committee on Monday that he would “gladly” kill Bangayan if the suspected rice smuggler tried to unload contraband in his city.
“And so, I’ll go to prison. I’m already old. I can read books while in detention,” Duterte said.
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) was also listening, and did not like what Duterte said.
“His statement, made in the halls of an institution that makes laws, encourages this culture of impunity,” said CHR Chair Loretta Ann Rosales.
Rosales said her office would instigate a criminal charge of “issuing grave threats” against Duterte, which is punishable by up to six months in jail.
But a prosecutor would have to agree to file the charge, and then the case would likely take many years to complete in the overwhelmed court system.
For the future
Poe said Duterte’s remarks should not be stricken off the Senate records despite their being a declaration of willingness to kill Bangayan.
“If you were able to say that, it should remain on the record,” Poe said.
In the future, she said, students should be able to read about what actually happened in the Senate today.
“Are we to say that the Senate is always proper? Never. Hardly, isn’t it? In the future, they will say, ‘So this was how they were before.’ The children will learn how proper they were before but it won’t be true,” Poe said.
“That’s why we have to evolve for the better and we can only do that if we present ourselves in a true light,” she added.
Sen. Cynthia Villar, the chair of the Senate committee on agriculture that heard Duterte’s threats, played down the mayor’s statements.
“I always take Mayor Duterte’s word figuratively. It’s not like he’s actually going to kill someone. Just like when he gets angry [with] criminals, he tells them he will kill them. But he never killed them,” Villar said.
“That’s just me. Because I frequently go to Davao City and I’m familiar with how he is … He has to be tough in Davao City. As you can see, if a mayor isn’t tough in Mindanao, many tend to be abusive,” Villar added.—With a report from AFP
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.