Deserving Duterte


If there’s anyone that I am now afraid might win the 2016 elections—because who knows what kind of electorate we have at this point—it is Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

Yes, there are pros and cons for all the presidential candidates and the possibility that each will win. But what Duterte promises are such simple, commonsensical things. What he promises are things that all presidential candidates should be promising, and they should be promising it with a progam to back it up. A holistic take on peace and order and public safety that need not fall back on action star rhetoric, and need not mean committing every human rights violation imaginable.

Duterte’s Davao
Yes, we have heard of how safe Davao is, and how it has gotten international mileage, with labels like “The 5th safest city in the world!” (Philippine Daily Inquirer, 24 June).

And yet one is hard put to celebrate this when one considers the violence that is equated with this kind of peace and order that Davao is now famous for, and the kind of fear that is equated with the Davao leadership – with Duterte at the center of it.

In 2009, Human Rights Watch was alarmed by the violence in Davao and its effects on its children. They noted a steady increase in “targeted killings” of adults and children in Davao City from 2000 to 2010. In 1998, there were two reported killings. In 2008, there were 124. (TUCP website, 29 Aug 2009)

From 1998 to 2009, there were 908 killings attributed to what was termed as the Davao Death Squad (DDS). Teenagers take up a percentage of those killed. (TUCP 29 Aug 2009)

Human Rights Watch did extensive interviews and concluded that “police officers and local government officials are involved in the decade-long killing spree that has plagued Davao City.” (, April 2009)

Mayor Duterte did not condemn these killings. (TUCP website, 29 Aug 2009)

The title of the HRW report from 2009? “You Can Die Any Time.”

Duterte and (in)justice
The above is enough reason to decide against Duterte in 2016. There is no excuse for these killings – not even the idea that the ones who are being killed are the known troublemakers of the community. And no, warning mothers that their children will be killed if they continue to misbehave is nothing. Because how is that even justice and due process?

This is a country that celebrates its democracy and freedom all the time. We speak of it as a good thing, even when it means we aren’t safe, even when it means we need a whole lot of smarts and a keen sense of danger when we step out into the streets.

To want every petty criminal killed is in no way justifiable. Whatever happened to legal arrests and the courts? Whatever happened to the notion(s) of reform and change, and the right of every person to go through that process?

In 2003, Duterte said on TV: “I admit I am 100 per cent terrorist but I am terrorizing only the drug pushers, kidnappers, hold-up gangs and other criminals <…> Kidnappers, drug pushers from other places, I dare you to come over here so that I can finish you off.”

In February 2009, Duterte said: “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.” (, April 2009)

In 2012, Duterte “offered a $120,000 reward for whoever could bring him the decapitated head of an alleged gang leader <…> He offered an extra $24,000 if the head could be brought in a bag of ice, “so it won’t smell so bad.” (, 2 July 2014)

I might be scared of drug pushers and kidnappers, hold-up gangs and syndicates, but having a Presidential candidate to even speak in this way makes my skin crawl.

We keep screaming Never Again! to Martial Law half the time because of the human rights violations and desaparecidos and violence. And yet here we are celebrating a man who is promising exactly the same things.

Duterte’s words
On May 25, Duterte guested in the local Davao show entitled Gikan Para sa Masa, where he admitted that he was the Davao Death Squad (DDS). After it gained mileage in Manila news and social media, he came out to say that when he said DDS, he meant Davao Development System. He denied completely what he had said on live television, now on YouTube for everyone to see.

And if you have the wherewithal to do exactly that, you’ll see that this is how the conversation went down:

“Duterte: Ako, ako daw ang death squad.

“Host: How do you react to that?

“Duterte: Tinuod (true).

“Host: DDS is responsible for the killings?

“Duterte: Tinuod nga. Alam mo kung baket? Gusto ko sila pumunta rito. There’s no need for you to go to the Ombudsman, there is no requirement to go to the Human Rights. File directly in court. Then I’ll place you under oath. Just execute an affidavit. Then I’ll call you when it’s my time for cross-examination. And I will show to the world how stupid you are.” (, 26 May)

Now search for the Davao Development System on any Davao website, and you will not find proof of its existence. There is a Davao Development FB Page, but there is no indication on the city’s official sites and press releases that this DDS even exists, at least not as of November 28.

Duterte tried and failed to spin his own admission of complicity in the extrajudicial killings done by the Davao Death Squad. He also admitted in fact that he is the Davao Death Squad.

Yes, Duterte speaks the every Pinoy macho’s language. That one that declares I will kill them all, I will make you eat the bullets that you plant in travelers’ luggage, I will make you eat the coins that you’ve earned today, I will use a hammer and maim you if you cut classes.

One can understand that appeal of these words (Jarius Bondoc, The Philippine Star, 27 Nov) but that doesn’t make these words right. We might like to hear that the streets will be cleared of petty criminals, but what does that mean for the bigger criminals in our midst? The big oligarchies that have as unspoken policy the oppression of workers via contractualization, the every-cultural institution that uses foundations as tax shields? (Rene Saguisag, GMA News Online, 21 May)

The words are good, but the rationale behind it, the system that it seeks to build, the frame by which we are given a set of limitations, THAT is more important. Without it, Duterte is revealing himself to be nothing but a man who has gotten away with … well … murder.

“Duterte: <…> if I become President, magtago na kayo, ‘yang 1,000 <extrajudicial killings> na yan it will reach 50,000. I will kill all of you who make the life of Filipinos miserable. Papatayin ko talaga kayo. Kase manalo ako dahil sa breakdown sa law and order eh. I do not want to commit a crime. But if by chance, God will place me there, magbantay kayo, because itong 1,000 na ito magiging 100,000. Diyan niyo makikita na tataba yung isda sa Manila Bay. Dahil diyan ko kayo itapon. I do not want to be President. I do not want to kill people. So do not elect me as President.”

I hear you, Sir. Let’s hope the rest of the Philippines hears you, too.


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  1. “I might be scared of drug pushers and kidnappers, hold-up gangs and syndicates, but having a Presidential candidate to even speak in this way makes my skin crawl.”

    alright! love that line (btw i’mma rapist)… hahahah

  2. extremely a one sided article….me, my family & friends in mindanao as well as my colleague here in Saudi are sick and really tired of the situation in pinas. regardless of how u hit duderte of any issues our votes still goes to him.

  3. Would you rather have a leader who steals and kills the people in the process or to have a leader who destroys evil to restore order? I’d pick the latter.

  4. My one vote will definitely go to Duterte. I have voted so many times and I can’t seem to find peacefulness in our country. We are heading to doomsday unless we have Duterte as our president.

    • may tinatago ka ba? our country needs an iron fist. democracy? Im a filipino, clear filipinos are very immature about it. filipinos need to be guided by norms through iron fist.

  5. A person who does not follow the rule of law and applies his own law is actually defined as a lawless element regardless if he thinks he is doing it for the common good. Why kill all the criminals if you can arrest them and place all of them in jail? A person who does not follow the ten commandments of God because he has his own personal commandments is not worthy to be a Christian leader because he does not even fear God. We are an educated country so why bring this country back to primitive laws.

  6. circumventing the law is a no no no. if duterte wins would he respect the decision of the supreme court baka ipapatay nya mga mahistrado pag di nasunod sa gusto nya.

  7. I do not care and we absolutely do not care. My whole family and I will vote for Mr. Duterte. Mas maganda yung stricktong leader kesa magnanakaw na leader. Ang Pilipinas ay walang pag aasenso , at kng may pag asenso man ay hindi nmn eto ramdam ng mga mahihirap natin mga kapatid. Pare pareho lng nmn ang ginagawa nga mga leader natin ngayon. Yung administrasyon pinapatay sa gutom ang mga mahihirap at yung mga biktima nga natural desasters tulad nga mga Bagyo at Lindol. Indirectly nga lng yung pgpatay sa mga kapatid natin na mahihirap. Hindi natin nakikita yun dahil akala natin ang 2 sardinas at 1 kilo ng bigas at 1 noodles ay biyaya or tulong galling sa gobyerno.. We need permanent solution not only temporary solutions. At nakikita ko lng yan kay Duterte.

  8. Nakakatawa tong article na to, even though its not intended to be a comedy skit. I beleive the author did not experiece any bad thing ever in her life, it seems, it is as if she is not living in the Philippines. i’m from Davao and i’m not afraid if what you describe Mayor Duterte to be. He has been great to all that are law abiding citizens, i want him to be the nightmare for all criminals and you cant do anything about it. DUTERTE for President in 2016

  9. i want Duterte to be the president, i am willing to spend for him. i will sell 1 more goat for him.

  10. Please pray for Duterte. tomorrow i will sell my goat and donate the money to Duterte, he needs help from everyone. i cannot give more.

  11. with due respect to the writer.please come to davao city and stay for 1 week.bring all hardened criminals from manila..conduct a fact finding study..the you will know the truth in davao city.don’t just write a hearsay you just create yourself a minion of imperial manila.DUTERTE !!! OUR PRESIDENT..

  12. Duterte Presidency is a disaster waiting to happen. He is pro-BBL, pro-NPA (admits giving 125 million to NPA every year).

    • pre huwag kang magsalita na hindi mo alam.punta ka davao city..tanungin mo mga MILF kung di ba sila takot ni digong,..tanungin mo ang mga sundalo at polis na POW sa duterte ba ay NPA?kayong taga maynila ang dahilan bakit ganito kami sa probinsya akala ninyo mas may alam pa kayo sa amin na taga dito sa mindanao..

  13. pag ang anak mo ay na kidnap , tyak na ipagdadasal mo na si Duterte ay kakampi mo. Kaya Miss katrina mag isip ka muna bago ka magsalita, hindi ka pa nasusubukan.

  14. To hell with traditional principles, now is the age of practical solutions to real problems, The latter has not worked in this country, and no reason why it would now. Duterte may even be that catalyst for true change in this chaotic, undisciplined country of ours.

  15. People clamor for a Duterte, Why? There is only one reason for these, because once upon a time we trusted kind people in our government, we trusted those people whom we thought will uphold our rights and interest as Filipino people. But what happen, we are robbed by the same people we have trusted, it turned out that the people whom we believe will protect us are the ones who raided our treasury and made us poor because of corruption. Then came someone who did not promise to be kind, but shows his hatred to these crooks, so it is only natural that people wants to give up part of their freedom just to purchase a Philippines who is peaceful, who progressive. For some it doesn’t matter who Duterte was, what he did in Davao speaks a thousand word for them, it was their hope.

    • It is true that Duterte’s popularity is caused by the complete breakdown of Philippine politics. I too am sick of the corruption and the incompetence. People are desperate for a “man on a white horse” to come in and revolutionize everything. But no matter how bad things are now, that does NOT mean that a Duterte presidency a good thing! How do you know that you won’t get a “cure” that is much worse than the disease? This is a man who condones the killing of minors. He is sick. He is a psychopath. How much blood do you want spilled to establish the disciplined, progressive, and “peaceful” Filipino nation you’re fantasizing about?

      Remember that the fascist dictators of Europe were also supported by populations desperate for a man on a white horse. (I recommend you read the book, ‘It Can’t Happen Here’.) Do not make the same mistakes of which history screams to us very clear warnings.

  16. Such simple commonsensical statements electrify the masa voters, which are the majority of the electorate. He is a well rounded candidate. To all those Visayans and Mindanaoans, he promised Federalism. To all those in the ABC bracket, he promised peace and order, bumping up the economy and infrastructure, and releasing the economic restrictions in the constitution. To those in the D & E bracket, he promised a good livelihood and to eradicate corruption and criminality.

    He stands out from other candidates and their streotypes. Poe being smart and qualified but many perceieved her as “unripe” for the job. Binay being competent and has a masa image, is hurled with corruption issues. Roxas promised to continue “Daang Matuwid”, but his failures as DOTC and DILG haunts him (Yolanda, Mamasapano, MRT,)

  17. Does not the author realize that there is no due process or justice in this country? The courts and the police are either corrupt or incompetent.

  18. yun ayaw kay duterte wag nyo iboto period… ang mga side sa mga kriminal iba iboto ninyo. yun mga di nakaka-alam na mayroon sariling Davao task force ang city kaya payapa at dds. davao city lang nagbabawal ng firecrackers sa bagong taon na natupad at ang SM mall indoor parking lot wala bayad free zip zero nada sya lang nakagawa nya sa mga SY. ilan lang yan sa mga batas na sya lang kaya magpatupad at marami pa. basta bawal mga kriminal sa bayan ko yan sabi ni mayor.

  19. Crisostomo Ibarra on

    You forgot to mention that he will declare a revolutionary government and will likely give him absolute power.

    Remember the old adage, Absolute power corrupts Absolutely.

  20. Scented Candle on

    In the kind of society we have today, Duterte is the solution! For every crime that Philippines is facing, we cannot find the heart of our fellowmen, killing for them is like killing cockroach, no mercy for doing it, the riding in tandem, the snatching, kidnapping, it is about time to do what Duterte’s way of disciplining PEOPLE.

    To give sample to the VIOLATORS are fair enough…if we are doing what is right, living in this nation as good followers of the laws, what are to be afraid of? It is the discipline that he wants to instill. What is the application of CHANGE if he will fail to implement those words he wants to become for this nation.

    Simply means, there are more victims who need justice, the hunger to find the real and fair treatment. We are for peace and progress, if we don’t attain these two, what’s the use of PROGRESS if crimes are just around…night and day for worrying our security, to be protected. We need to FIGHT, be united and cooperate with DUTERTE if he is declare the winner next year!

  21. You writer! your ignorance of what really happened in Davo City will not change my mind to vote Mayor Duterte!!!by the I grow up in Davao city…if you are hiding something,I understand you should be afraid!!!time is running for you!

    • Tumpak ka pare, hehehe only those that are afraid of the changes will surely say things like this to RRD. Yung may tinatago. I’ll still give her the benefit of the doubt though, hindi taga Davao eh. Kung ang mga taga Davao ayaw sa pamamaraan ni Duterte he could have lost a long long time ago.

  22. I’m not scared Duterte will win. I rather him won the presidency.

    Duterte said it’s a matter of destiny and it is.

  23. The problem with this article Ms. Katrina, is that you never allowed yourself to research of programs by mayor duterte for those who voluntarily surrenders particularly those involve in illegal drugs- you will surely be surprised! You only copy-pasted and made an opinion about it.

    Try again!!

  24. The lawbreakers deserve someone like Duterte. Why does Duterte’s message resonate strongly with the public? Because of the epic failure of the supposedly democratic liberal but actually criminally hypocritical 30 year old Yellow regime founded by Cory. If Duterte wins, that would be democracy at work and a repudiation of western liberal values. Which should have primacy, democracy or the human rights of criminals?

  25. ms.santiago, much as we want the rule of law to always prevail such is not possible anymore under the current situation. digong knows very well, as a former fiscal, that rules can & will be bent for the appropriate agreement that’s why he does what he does to get things moving first in davao then the nation, hopefully the rich can always migrate elsewhere but the less fortunate have nowhere else to go to. even the rebels have reached an understanding w/ him. now tell me can the other wannabes match up w/ him?

  26. All candidates should be scrutinized on what policies they will pursue.Will they force the Philippines into the horrific TPP(TransPacificPartnership) pact? Will they continue to do the bidding of an aggressive neo-colonial power(USA) in stirring up trouble with China and allowing US boots on the ground? Will they pursue a more independent course and seek loyal trading partners? Part of Duterte’s lure is he projects a tough stance in this turbulent world…an independent leader. We will be able to judge all of this better when all these candidates present their platforms.

  27. Venerando Desales on

    I agree with you! The trouble with the human heart is that it is always attracted to what is wrong and mired in many evils which cannot come from his good Creator! Here is a presidential candidate who admits to be a killer, yet many cheer him for what he does! It is even unpresidentiable to admit to be a killer. It is likened to those who cheered in the colliseum while gladiators fight to death while the emperor proudly stood with thumbs up.How can he judge if those summarily killed were really criminals? He is a lawyer and yet he doesn’t believe in substantive and procedural law? We hated in the shortcut in the dap/pdap scam, must we join the bandwagon of brutality and cheer in the shortcut of life by salvaging? Must we go back to the martial law days when secret marshals rode along with commuters and the kill counts rose by the day? What has gone to our values? The decision to kill is quick and easy if one has the stomach of it, yet the decision in solving the country’s problems requires fine tuning with the highest statesmanship, discernment and wisdom! Look how he vacillitated on whether or not to enter the presidential race! Assuming, he did not, yet he played around with the deadline in filing the COC! We need courage that comes from God!

    • Duterte challenge anyone to file a case, so why don’t you file one!! I am one who is interested to know if that allegation is true. He is, so far, innocent. Are you afraid you are one of the target soon?

  28. I wonder this writer sounds very scared, only the criminals should freak out, if only you had experienced being vicitimized or a person known to you then you will be saying allelujah if duterte wiins

    • exactly. hindi ko maintindihan bakit sya sinasabihan criminal, hindi naman sya ang pumatay. kung sya man ang nag utos, criminal rin naman ang pinatay so anong problema? Silang mga PRO- Criminals na ayaw kay Duterte hindi pa siguro nila nararanasan maging biktima. dapat siguro maranasan nila ng maramdaman nila kung ano ang pakiramdam na maging isang biktima ng mga sira ulong taon mga yan.

    • Sana nga maging biktima sila sampu ng kanyang mga kamag-anak ng mga salot sa ating lipunan para maintindihan nila ang sakit at tiyak ipangalandakan nila na si Duterte na ang mamuno sa ating bansa.

  29. ms katrina: how do you propose to stop the bad guys from harming the innocent and law abiding citizens? the thieves, the drug lords, etc? be real madam, who do you want to protect: the bad guys or the good guys?

    it is very very easy to open a business in davao but not in other cities. it is safe in davao but not in other cities. where do you want us to go?

  30. This the result of the total breakdown of our justice system. Many criminals are set free because of corrupt judges. Look at Hubert Webb. Supreme Court reversed prior court decision and set him free. Look at Dominguez brothers still can have judge assassinated. This is a fertile ground for vigilantes like Duterte to prosper. These vigilantes are so frustrated with the system that they put justice in their own hands. I am so scared to even go to Quiapo because of criminals lurking in that place. And to think that this is my country.

  31. The old Singapore was part of Malaysia before it separated and corruption and lawlessness was the rule of the day. When Lee Kwan Yeuw (?) took over the governance of the country, he ruled it with iron hands and practiced capital punishment to the citizens in order to instill discipline and peace. He ruled then like a martial law which it was, but never went out of bounce by following their Constitution and laws of the land. With peace and order in check he had an easy time making laws to benefit the entire Singapore which turned out good for their country and made it succeed. This is the type of governing which the Philippines need and Rody Duterte will be the right person to manage and lead because he is not beholden to anyone but his own ways to make things work. Based on the news and reports, Duterte does not punish citizens who have nothing to do with criminality but only to the known criminals and felons. What is wrong in that?

    • yes Duterte is a verdugo! i will work for him, for free. i will help him become a good president for all of us.

    • Hindi sa mga inosente at masunuring mamamayan ng ating bansa kundi sa mga salot ng lipunan. Iyan ang isaksak mo sa iyong kukote dahil hindi mo naiintindihan si Duterte.

  32. Agueda Kahabagan on

    Whatever his critics accused of him, Duterte is still the best man for president. Wrongful accusations and ignorance of what is really happening in Davao City will not make me change my decision of who to vote for. Duterte for president!

  33. Rodan Guerrero on

    DUTERTE ATRAS ABANTE…can he be trusted anyway? Is this man a HAMBUG or HAMBOG? NOPE… in tagalog sya ay BERDUGO! Gusto nyo bang magkaroon ng presidente na BERDUGO?

    • oo kysa pangulo nyo na panggulo..puro pangako wala nman ginagawa.prove bagyo yolanda at pablo na hanggang ngayon bahay na ginawa amakan lang and made it for two years? billion us dollars ang na donate ng taga ibang bansa at yun lang…mga kriminal lang ang ayaw ky duterte…kysa mga tao na mahilig sa ok lang…

    • Gustong-gusto ko para maubos na ang salot sa ating lipunan at pakiusap lang na tumabi-tabi ka at baka mahagip ka ng kanyang pagiging Berdugo ng mga salot sa ating lipunan.

  34. Not even the much-reviled President Marcos spoke like Duterte and threatened to kill people. Perhaps we will see the reincarnation of Pol Pot if this killer becomes President.

  35. on

    Are you a criminal? Why scared of Duterte?

    People with criminal minds will never change, why spend a lot of people’s money for these idiots when there’s a better way of getting rid of them? Imagine feeding and providing shelter for these animals?