I wanted a president of our republic from Mindanao. More than a week ago, I still tended to support Duterte. I was one of the many anticipating his filing of candidacy. When he finally did, I warmed to the thought that in Duterte’s leadership, the Philippines will finally have a firm leader. I always believed we Filipinos need a strong figure, someone at the top who is respected and feared and will ensure laws are followed, and that those who do not are measured as to what the law says. I can support resorting to measures stronger than what we see done presently.
I justified to myself many things Duterte did and said, from the kissing spree to the dirty finger, the swear words and name calling. The rape remark was heavy, but I put it as one slip of imperfection we all have.
Then I became aware of the Davao Death Squad killings. Published literature on this is surprisingly detailed: number of those killed (by year, age, gender, areas), manner of how they were killed, and surrounding circumstances. Documentation available online is wide too, ranging from personal blogs (http://bit.ly/24sqxq6) to international papers (http://ind.pn/1UDGzdT) citing sources like Human Rights Watch. The initial effect on was chilling. One source (Picardal) puts number of victim of the Davao Death Squads at 1,424 from 1998 to last year, 2015. 1,367 were male, 57 female. Of 132 children, 126 were boys. The youngest boy is 12 and youngest girl is 15. A 9 year old boy was accidentally killed by a stray bullet. The DDS as they are more commonly called in some sources is a killing machine.
50% of the victims were children and young adults, and most were from urban poor areas. I took a bit of time to digest this. These are easy targets with no means to retaliate. Where are the big time criminals in this list? No shabu manufacturers, no kidnap-for-ransom operators, nor carnapping syndicates in the reports. Picardal says ‘there were no drug lords or big time criminals killed by the DDS.”
I want a tough hand for my country, not an unjust hand that crushes petty criminals, yet leaves the roots of criminality deeply rooted. Creating peace and order will not end by killing unarmed street-level law breakers sitting, drinking or standing by the road waiting for a ride home, at the time they are assassinated.
I support death penalty. I want people get fried on the chair. But only for those who manufacture drugs, major drug dealers of a determined significant amount. For all we know, manufacturers are not users but businessmen, heartless making money by feeding addiction. Street level drug users buying 100 pesos per pack are just the symptoms, the tail end of a lucrative global enterprise. Eliminating them, along with cellphone snatchers, thieves breaking into houses will not create peace and order.
After learning about this, every time someone says look at Davao, the 1,424 come to my mind and ask where have the bigger fish been channeled to and how.
Even then, I still welcomed the idea of voting for Duterte. Then the bank accounts came. When the Inquirer published the expose of senator Trillanes about his 211 million in BPI, one of his initial reactions was: “I am not a rich man,” Duterte said. “Huwag kayong maniwala diyan. It’s pure garbage.” This is from the Philippine Star. In other interviews he claimed the accounts are fictitious.
We know he was caught red handed. I do not care how much the banks contain. He lied. About a bank account. And that is all the difference. Our history is rife with people and their forms of concealing wealth-Marcos, the Cojuanco’s, Tan, Ongpin, Corona. I cannot not trust this man, whose travels I followed, whose interviews a watched, whose vulgarity I rationalised and who I deemed lived simply, honestly. I am happy I learned earlier he belonged to their league.
May be what I saw is merely a part his campaign strategy, as his many followers I meet assure me. We will see what is true after he is elected to the presidency. Scary is that, I thought we have 90 days so we get to make informed choices. Then all these days, all those ads, debates, including all the hours we spent reading, listening and arguing fighting even over them, were just all waste. Garbage.
So in a matter of hours, I head to vote. I never considered voting Binay or MDS. I considered Poe, but when I saw the list of senatorial candidates in her list, I was not happy to see the lawyer of Napoles in her team. It does not sit with me. Deciding my VP is easy. The most authentic human person before the nation during these 90 days of campaigning is Leni Robredo. Despite the weaknesses and failures of the PNoy, I am aware of our achievements as a nation these past 6 years. Mar Roxas does not need an apologist. Leading and managing an emergency the scale of Yolanda is not easy. Surely, going to Leyte to distribute and appear like a hero for three days or a week is chicken feed.
I believe I influenced some people to cast their votes for Duterte. I am happy I went through this process.
My president is Mar.