Tanauan City, Batangas: Seven suspects, three of them minors, earlier arrested for alleged drug pushing were made to take “a walk of shame” around the city’s public market as warning to the public that they will suffer the same fate if they commit crime.
Mayor Antonio Halili, a self-confessed fan of incoming president Rodrigo Duterte, ordered the suspects to walk around the public market on Wednesday bearing a sign, “Ako’y drug pusher, ‘wag tularan” (I’m a drug pusher, Don’t follow suit).
The suspects were handcuffed to one another in twos and threes and walked through the streets and around the public market with heads bowed.
One of the minors is a 14-year-old girl, while two others are both 17.
“I ordered the seven suspects to take ‘a walk of shame’ so that people would know their illegal activities,” Halili said.
Four of the suspects were presented for inquest before the City Prosecutor’s Office on Wednesday while the minors were turned over to the Department of Social Work and Development.
Halili said he will not be cowed to continue the practice, despite condemnation by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and other sectors, which he said helped curb illegal activities in the city.
The mayor claimed that his strategy proved effective in deterring the criminality in the city as the conventional method seldom works. He said incidence of robbery, rape and other related crimes were reduced since he implemented the ‘walk of shame’ two years ago.
In 2014 Halili made a dried fish thief “walk in shame” with the item he stole tied around his waist, and in 2015 a man who stole an electric wire was also asked to do the same. Last month, a man who was arrested for rape was also ordered to parade around the city with a shame sign.
Meanwhile, CHR Regions 4A and B director Jacqueline de Guia, said the “walk of shame” could be considered a form of mental torture “because it brings shame upon a suspect who has yet to be proven guilty.”
She said that instead of making the suspects take the walk, charges should be filed and let the justice system take over as it will be “a mockery of the whole judicial and government system” if the law is left in the hands of one person.
De Guia added the suspects could also file a complaint against the mayor.