Did Duterte really kill all those people?


I was with Chairman Chito Gaston of the Commission on Human Rights at the Kapihan sa Anabel (in Quezon City) last Saturday when he said he would investigate Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s reported claim of having killed 1,700 police characters over the past so many years. I had no problem believing Gaston, but I had difficulty believing the mayor. How could anyone possibly kill all those people in a city like Davao and still go around on his motorbike without provoking a shooting war and getting bumped off by his victims’ surviving relatives and friends?

I told Gaston that unless he came up with the evidence, he would have to criminally charge Duterte with trying to impersonate the Khmer Rouge butcher Pol Pot or the English hangman Albert Pierrepoint. This is precisely my problem with the good Mayor. His claims are simply unreal and incredible. This was not the Duterte I thought I knew from years before.

In one of my successful senatorial campaigns, Duterte once asked me to ride tandem with him, at the back of his motorcycle, as we drove around; it was his way of endorsing a candidate. On a couple of other occasions, we dined at an unpretentious seafood restaurant in Davao, and talked about nothing in general. I was completely unprepared to see him morph into the character that he has become, as far as the social and anti-social media are concerned.

It appears that some publicity quack has sold him the idea that some people like watching and listening to a mean-looking, tough-talking, foul-mouthed character who has no second thoughts about decapitating petty criminals and deflowering scantily dressed maidens. Big crime is the solution to petty crime; the next President should be the personal reincarnation of the death sentence. It’s all cheap entertainment and cheaper propaganda: where PNoy famously plays the video game, “Digong” has become its main character. The media has created an improbable “persona” he must live up to, and his fans are enjoying it.

Duterte is gaining so much mileage, playing to the crowd. This is the crowd outside the political mainstream, whose existence is rarely noticed by the political, economic and social elite, so they try to draw attention to their dismal condition by means of the profanities and cuss words which Duterte supplies. “It’s been (with all due apologies) a ‘putang-ina’ life for such a long time, and we’ll get even with all the ‘putang-ina’ by supporting Duterte for president,” one of them put it. That is their threat, and it’s more than a threat.

It is the first expression of revolt. Duterte has recognized this, and so he says the most outrageous things; and the more outrageous he is, the more they cheer him. He is performing for them and the internal applause he hears seems deafening. No one can say if Duterte himself believes everything he is saying, and not even his rivals seem to care. In my youth, I used to listen to a local demagogue who told all the lies that had the crowds entertained, and when a zealous rival complained about his lies, he said, “The trouble with you people is that you want to believe everything you hear. That is quite stupid, for I don’t even believe what I’m saying.”

Now, even Mar Roxas has fallen into the trap. He has challenged Duterte to a slapping match for casting aspersion on his education at Wharton. This debases the non-existent presidential debate, without giving Mar any chance of being able to “out-thug the thug.” When people normally talk of a Wharton degree, they usually refer to a post-graduate degree, which allows one to walk the corridors of business and finance.

To the best of my knowledge, Mar has an undergraduate degree, not a post-grad. Duterte, therefore, will have to do the slapping if he so chooses, instead of being slapped. But while degrees are helpful and look good in one’s professional resume, a real intellectual ought to be able to rise above, or even without, academic credentials.

The critical word here is “rise. Both must rise. Mar must rise out of his “burgis” (bourgeois) mold and image, and Duterte must rise from being a mere cuss word to being a genuine light to the masses. Mar will not be helped by any of the inane TV ads that try to picture him as someone he is not; Duterte should be able to project himself not only as someone who represents the frustration of the masses but above all as someone who seeks to raise their vision of the nation and themselves.

To many analysts, B. S. Aquino 3rd has been the most unworthy president in the nation’s history, bar none. We cannot afford to have a new president who will make us miss this incompetent megalomaniac after he is mercifully gone. The trouble though is that although we had to wait for Aquino to get to Malacañang to see if he was sane, “Digong” seems determined to convince everybody that they don’t have to wait for him to get there.

After listening to him curse the Pope, brag about his polyamorous sexual exploits, casually voice support for the highly controversial Bangsamoro political entity, for same-sex “marriage,” and other things, some people who would insist on subjecting PNoy to a psychiatric test now seem ready to propose an exorcism for the “macho” candidate. But such seems to be Duterte’s impact on the 2016 elections that one cannot seem to say any negative thing about him without provoking an impassioned reaction from an unexpected bystander.

Duterte’s merits or lack thereof will not be settled here. Duterte has to make his best qualities known to as many people as possible. But he must educate himself and others on the basic issues about governance and nation-building. He must help un-confuse our highly confused population. For instance, many like Duterte because he is supposed to be a “brave” leader. But they cite his reported “brutality” as the shining proof of his bravery and courage. The unschooled and unlettered must be made to see that just as civility is not weakness, brutality is neither courage nor strength.

Many others like him because he promises to shift to a federal and parliamentary government, which they believe is an improvement upon the presidential unitary system. Again, the unschooled and the unlettered and even the college educated must be made to see that such change requires an amendment or revision of the Constitution, and it is Congress and the Filipino people, not the President, that can propose such amendment or revision. There are a few other issues. In short, he must tell his supporters that he is running for President only, not for Superman.

He must be forthright and candid enough to declare that his crimes and sins, which he must atone and do penance for, are not at all qualifications for high office, which make him worthier than the others. They are proof that he is as human flawed and as imperfect as anybody else, but that because he wants to serve, he promises to make sure that any reform he wants to see for his country and people will first begin with himself.



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  1. Mr. Tatad seems to confuse Roxas and Bobong Marcos. Roxas claimed Wharton Degree on Economics, not MBA. Bongbong Marcos on the other hand claimed a fake Oxford degree.

  2. Rene L. Canlas on

    Mayor Duterte said that in case he and Sen Poe will be disqualified to run for President, he will campaign for VP Binay..How come? I thought he want stop crime and corruption. He knows very well who is the most corrupt politician in the Philippines and now he will campaign for him. Wowww.. Come on Mayor..be true to yourself. If you hate corrupt people, let them suffer in jail for the rest of their life. I plan to vote and campaign for you in case you will be allowed to run for President but since you said that you will go for Binay instead.. sorry sir..you lost my and my family’s votes as well as my friends.

  3. It is incorrect and wrong to assume or suppose that when somebody says he is a graduate of “Wharton”, it means he is claiming that he completed a graduate degree from that school, like an MBA. The Wharton School of Business of the Univ. of Pennsylvania has both undergraduate and graduate divisions. One who completes a degree at either division naturally, logically, and rightfully considers himself a “Wharton graduate”. For example, the leading presidential contender for the Republican party in the USA, Mr. Donald Trump, frequently says at his political rallies: “I am a very smart person. I graduated from Wharton” because Wharton is considered to be the #1 business school in the USA, and it is not easy to be accepted, much more to graduate from that school. No political opponent, journalist or columnist has ever questioned Mr. Trump’s claim to be a Wharton graduate, and no one in the USA has ever assumed that he claims to be a an MBA graduate from that school when he makes his statement. It is common knowledge that he attended the school for only two years, and that his degree is an undergraduate degree. It is the same for two of his children who also completed their undergraduate degrees, but not MBAs, at Wharton. They are labeled as “Wharton graduates” in every newspaper and magazine articles written about them

    I suspect that Mayor Duterte and his supporters confused Mar Roxas with Senator Bongbong Marcos who has been exposed by “Rappler” to have falsely claimed that he graduated from both Wharton and UK’s Oxford University.

    It is so easy to find out the truth about Mar’s academic credentials. All that the mayor and his coterie had to do was to visit the web site of the archives of the Univ of Pennsylvania, and search for “Manuel Roxas”. The result will immediately return a picture of young Mar, and the fact that he graduated with a B.S. Economics from the Wharton School. It will also show that Mar is considered one of “Penn Notables”; i.e., an illustrious alumnus.

    As for Mayor Duterte’s fitness to serve as a potential president of the Philippines, the electorate will have to weigh and decide whether his propensity for excessive cursing, his cringe-worthy public fondling of young women, his plans to abolish Congress, institute Federalism, impose a curfew, his “bang, bang, you’re dead” mode of governing (instead of “sampalan”, he is now challenging Mar to a barilan”), his lack of basic political etiquette, etc., are to be ignored, overlooked, and not considered to be as important as his plans to reduce crime, graft and corruption, prostitution, etc. in Manila and the rest of the country. Meanwhile, at this point of the election process, isn’t it time for the Department of Justice to step forward and look into the mayor’s claim of 1700 “kills”? People need and want to know whether this claim is true or not before the election in 2016 takes place. Who are the victims and where are the bodies? Are all of them criminals who deserve summary execution?

  4. Most common people can easily identify themselves with Duterte, something impossible for them with Mar. Kung ang isang gagong barumbado pwede maging president, eh di pwede rin ako!

  5. Daniel B. Laurente on

    “The trouble with you people is that you want to believe everything you hear. That is quite stupid, for I don’t even believe what I’m saying.”

    In our town in my childhood days, i used to hear people while at one corner listening carefully and intently to one speaker then occasionally laughing in chorus. After a while the speaker will say,” Bahala na mo kung motoo mo o dili sa ako. ” Basta nag istorya ko ninyo. Tara manginom na ta.

  6. Your words “Its the first expression of revolt” sums it all up, and all the “morally pure” yellow hypocrites have all the reason to be scared.

  7. Isnt Davao already proof that Duterte’s IQ is higher than Mar’s? How has Mar handled the SAF44 situation? The MRT? Yolanda? It is Mar’s lack of wisdom that makes him so unpopular with the people. You may argue that he is an UPenn undergrad and is, yes, intelligent. But intelligence isnot the same as wisdom, Sir. A person’s wisdom is what makes people love him.

    • yes Joyce i agree, Duterte is a man of great wisdom, he is actually teaching us some of it as we go along this pre-election activities. wisdom to express ourselves freely and bravely. I hope he wins because many of us can lean on him and gain the confidence we deserve.

  8. Yes Senator Tatad. You are right to the tee in all you have written.

    I wish Mayor Duterte and his advisers listen to you.
    Best, they take you as a senior adviser.

  9. The disadvantage of a Duterte presidency is that he has spent too long as local city executive that it shows in his approach to national governance. His city thinking is too small for an entire country. Baka maging ala-Erap lang yan. Magaling lang sa local pero pagdating sa national hindi kaya.

    • SashimiMonster on

      Oh, but Erap is not a lawyer or a fiscal like Duterte is. Erap won by popularity due to his being an action star. Duterte knows the law, thus he is playing and basing his tactics in it. He governs with wisdom and experience. He knows what the people wants and gives it to them. His vision is for the Philippines to become like Singapore and a lot of people in Davao knows and support it.

  10. Mr tatad if you are not narrow minded you can understand that all those you mentioned about digong are just “icing of the cake/strategies” of his political campaign because he has no money for the expensive campaign ads in tv and its effective so far because it resonate to the ordinary people. Do some more research and look very closely and if you are not blinded by money or ignorance you can see his real platforms of change for this rottem government.

  11. Duterte in my opinion will have a very hard time elected as president. The middle class will be so scared to vote for him. He might get some votes from the poor and the under privileged . If the Catholics unite, they too will not vote for him. If the survey is not rigged, he will be in the low 15 or max 17 percent. This will be a 2 way race Mar Roxas and Grace Poe. The liberal should not be scared on Duterte. The last survey is rigged.

    • hahaha!!!reality hurts ika nga…both Poe & Mar are behind to Duterte in any survey. Anyway don’t worry, duterte and poe will be DQued. so the real battle will be between Mar and Binay..

  12. Dominador D. Canastra on

    If Duterte has just been bragging, like a neighborhood punk, how can he be prosecuted? What he and his adoring fans in Davao should be subjected to is TO BE SHAMED for being a bunch of fools.
    And all BIsayans should disown him!
    Sa amo sa Sugbo, wa may mga tawong matarung nga pro-Duterte.

    • pag sure oi! mura pud ka ug tarong! ayaw pag malinis.. tan-awa imo kaugaligon… kilatan ka unya sa imong pagkabalaan.

  13. Leodegardo Pruna on

    Hopefully, after reading this column if ever by Du30, that slowly he would realize that the presidency is not only a position of power but a position of humility and compassion as well. God bless the Philippines.

  14. I followed Kit Tatad’s career since I was in college watching TV where his young handsome face is the only figure you see. Many of us see him as the Martial Law caricature but this time I agree with him.Absolutely ,Duterte is saying what the voters wanted to hear, The electorates who are desperately seeking a way out of this paranoid administration looks for an alternative, a presidential candidate that really wanted to serve honestly , without prejudice and dynastic tendencies. Let us take a closer look on Duterte,he might be worthier and the opposite of the fake yellow brigades.Meanwhile, let us not be taken seriously of his foul mouth,as my favorite priest at Agoo Basilica would love to say in my confessions, “Arkos la ngiwat dayta,barok”!

  15. I see him as Makasalanan na kagaya ko at Matapang na may Malasakit at may magandang track record as Mayor of Davao City, one of the safest city in the world.

  16. You maintain that Duterte would still do the slapping. Could you not reconcile your brain with the incontrovertible fact that the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania is known worldwide to award and have awarded the degree of BACHELOR OF SCIENCE IN ECONOMICS at the undergraduate level and Master of Business Administration at the postgraduate level. Duterte stated categorically that Roxas did not graduate from Wharton, period, without qualification as to either undergraduate or postgraduate. But still you concede that Roxas has an undergraduate degree, that of Bachelor of Science in Economics from Wharton. If you don’t like to stand corrected, you should be in the middle of both Duterte mistakenly and Roxas correctly slapping each other, and feel the incisive pang of your slip of the mind, if not pen.

    • I am not sure what point you are trying to convey. But Mar indeed has a B.S. Economics degree from the Wharton School of Business of the University of Pennsylvania. Just visit the archives of the Univ of Pennsylvania and search for “Manuel Roxas”. There, you will see a picture of the young Manuel Roxas plus a statement that he graduated with a BS in Economics from the Wharton School.

  17. Carlos de Castro on

    The only thing that will take the attention with the name Duterte in the PH is this stories about his DDS. W/out it he will just be an ordinary Mayor like the Abalos or Guia Gomez of
    san JUan. Here in the USA he will be right away arrested by the local police,mar roxas will be the only man standing after the counting of ballots before this school issue. I wish Mar should tell truth about it and if not it is Confessor, if she is still alive will be standing alone.

  18. Duterte and his family are just arrogant people. Duterte, like most people in the Philippines who graduated from exclusive schools and colleges are normally “FRESH”. They think (that obtaining a degree from the exclusive schools in the Philippines most especially in Metro Manila) that they are smarter and more prepared than some other graduates from other colleges and universities. That’s the case and character of the Dutertes. They always think that they above the laws in the Philippines (in which they cant do it in some countries). Obtaining a degree from the exclusive schools in Metro Manila is not a guarantee that they are better than the others. The Filipino “baby boomers” who graduated from the exclusive and prestigious colleges and universities in the Philippines that migrated in the U.S. cannot even land a decent and high-paying jobs in the U.S. Most of the Filipino “baby boomers” who are really successful in their own fields in the U.S. were graduates from the colleges and universities from provinces of the Phillipines. I know a lot of friends in the U.S. who are graduates from these exclusive schools (even with PhD’s) who earn with a little bit above the minimum wage in U.S., taxi/limo drivers, cashiers, low paying ordinary jobs. In other words, Duterte’s arrogance came from his being a graduate of San Beda (poor San Beda having a graduate who can hardly express himself in English). Why don’t some columnists check Dutertre’s credentials like his grades in San Beda? Roxas should have challenge Duterte’s IQ instead of “sampalan”.

    • I thought at first the good mayor Duterte if elected president, will impose discipline to all citizens and non-citizens in this country. But with his foul mouth and his egoistic personality, I realized that he is nothing but a disgraced human being.

    • I would not spend my breath talking about Duterte. He is double minded. He has his own style but not acceptable to Christians and CHR. We have to abide by the Rule of Law and not take the law in our own hand by killing people who he claimed are drug addicts, killers, etc. But without legal process how does he know they’re innocent. How many of these people he killed are innocent? I don’t think he killed many of them perhaps by his militia.