Mimicking Davao’s 814 summary executions, Cebu City finds itself necklaced with an unsought legacy: 183 “murders with a wink“. The time line is instructive.
Davao’s death squad killings have spilled into Cebu, UN special rapporteur Philip Alston wrote. His follow-up report to the UN Human Rights Council also pinpoints killing fields in .General Santos, Digos and Tagum.
Killings by “esquadrones de la muerte”, in Davao, bolted from 116 in 2007 to 269 in 2008,” he said. Mayor Rodrigo Duterte hasn’t solved a single case.
“As a result, death squad members operate with complete impunity,” he added. “Killing for hire is on the rise as death squad members become bold enough to sell their services…A killing costs about P5,000 (roughly US$100 ),” .
This results in “impunity.” Although killings take place in broad daylight, “witnesses are not prepared to testify” ”(Impunity).encouraged death squad killings to sprout in other cities beyond Davao.”
Cebu City mayor Osmena enthusiastically embraced the Davao example. In December 2004, he whipped up a so-called “Hunters’ Team”. He announced cash-for scalp bounties: P20,000 for cops who’d “permanently disable” any criminal.
Taking of life, whether by an abortionist or vigilante, is evil, Cardinal Ricardo Vidal bluntly said. “ Utos ni mayor” dislodges the Constitution with its guarantees of life and due process, the Integrated Bar cautioned.
“Will Mayor Osmena copy-cat the Davao’s death squads operating with impunity?, asked Viewpoint “ The 1980 communist insurgency may have embedded a vigilante mindset in Davao. But Cebu never had a tradition of “esquadrones de la muerte.” If Osmena goes down this path, blood will stain his already-checkered legacy.”
Osmena swears by Osmena. Yes-men clog his council. Did they assent to murder by cowed silence? In any case, Osmena parroted Duterte’s tough-guy talk.
‘Here in Davao, you can’t go out alive,” Mayor Duterte said of a notorious Manila drug lord’s release. “You can go out, but inside a coffin. Is that what you call extrajudicial killing? Then, I’ll will bring a drug lord to a judge and kill him there. That will no longer be extrajudicial, Such statements suggest “he is, in fact, supportive” of the slayings, Alston noted..
“Experience should teach us to be most on guard when government’s purposes are beneficent,” Justice Louis Brandeis once warned
Osmena claims his purposes are Brandeis pure. “We’ll respect human rights”, he said.. “We’ll go to the law’s limit and whack them. I’m more interested in protecting citizens.” Wink. Wink..
He couldn’t be bothered with checking if rules of engagement were kept. ”Such sentiments launched serial killings. They now blot a legacy that Cebuanos never sought…
“It’s been a year now since His Honor launched his ‘murder with a wink” policy,” Cebu Daily News wrote in February 2006. “What has he to show for bonneted killers who salvage with impunity in a city primping for the Asean Summit.
“Some 117 unsolved rubouts later, Cebu has been tagged ‘Murder Capital’,” the daily noted. “The virus infects Digos, Tangub and General Santos. That metastasis is noted by the US State Department in it’s human rights annual report. It foreshadows last week’s Alston statement.
Like Davao, vigilante victims in Cebu were petty criminals.
Others did time in jail. Some started rebuilding lives in honest businesses. Most were unarmed when snuffed out. “A wink denied them a second chance.”
“Drug lords aren’t scared. Corrupt officials carry on. No big fish has been landed.” Crime rates slump only when Manny Pacquiao climb into the ring.
“I’m not exactly proud of that record,” Osmena admitted. “But I’m not exactly sad that criminals were killed…”It’s a question of dosage. Wink. Wink.”
Has human life been stripped to calibrated doses? Who decides whose blood is to be a dosage?. And who says stop?. Or more.
“Osmena prides himself as an honorable man,” Viewpoint added. “At 20,000 per head, the ‘pacified’ 117 victims mean the mayor, in honoring his word, paid P2.34 million. .
“It’s taboo to use public funds for crime payrolls.
Philanthropy, however, is not one of his strong suits. So, who provided the shekels?. Friends? Businessmen? , Did they claim these as ‘tax deductions”?
Every unpunished murder takes away something from the security of every man’s life,” Daniel Webster said. Today’s perversion of institutions is possible only if citizens acquiesce.
Salvaging is “a cheap price to pay for peace and order”, some Cebuanos and Davaoenos say. They’ll lay down the lives of others, not their own. Where their pocketbooks begin, the right of “criminals” end.
Supreme Court initiatives like the writ of amparo to a beefed up human rights commission. help tamp down murders from 220 in 2006, to 64 in 2008. So did Alston’s meticulous documentation and dogged candor,“Government “deserves credit” for sending a strong message, although informal, to the military, he wrote. ““Overall, the most important shortcoming has been the government’s failure to institutionalize or implement reforms,”
“Just ignore Alston, “ Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales snorted. That’ tickles the ears of Mayors Duterte and Osmena, who returns from cancer surgery this month,
But the timeline sketches a Cain-like legacy of blood. Alston’s work made audible the voice muffled by government: “The blood of your brother Abel calls out to Me from the earth.”