human rights in the Philippines

Human rights defenders slam Duterte for telling son to ‘kill’ criminals

Grace Cantal-Albasin
Human rights defenders slam Duterte for telling son to ‘kill’ criminals

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte talks to the people after holding a meeting with key government officials at the Malacañan Palace on April 5, 2022. ALFRED FRIAS/ PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

Malacañang Photo

The President gives the unsolicited advice to son Sebastian, who is running for Davao City mayor. Human rights advocates say 'even as a joke, that is not acceptable.'

BUKIDNON, Philippines – Human rights advocates on Saturday, May 7, expressed disgust over President Rodrigo Duterte’s unsolicited advice to his son, Davao City Vice Mayor Sebastian Duterte, to start “killing” criminals if he wanted to become an effective mayor.

Davao-based physician Jean Suzanne Lindo, a nominee of the Gabriela Women’s Party, said Duterte’s recent pronouncements in Davao were uncalled for, debased the rule of law, and went against the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and the Constitution itself.

On Friday night, May 6, Duterte told Sebastian during a rally to start killing criminals so that he would be feared by the lawless.

 “Og mayor ka, Baste (Sebastian), og di ka kamao mupatay, pagsugod na. Pagtuon na karung gabie kay ang mayor nga di mupatay ug mahadlok mamatay may problema gyud mo. May problema mo. May problema ang Pilipinas og mubalik ang droga. Ambot na lang og unsaon kay retired na gyud ko,” Duterte said during his son’s campaign rally in Davao City.

(If you’re a mayor, Baste, and you don’t know how to kill, you should start already. Do it tonight. A mayor who can’t kill and is scared to die has a problem. They do have a problem. The Philippines has a problem if these drugs return. I don’t know what will happen, I will be retired.)

While his father was giving him this advice, Sebastian, who was seated on stage, kept his gaze down.

Lindo said: “Even as a joke, that is not acceptable. We can say their failure is not only in the war on drugs but also in terms of justice and governance. I pray his son will critically reflect on this, and choose to be a just leader.”

The youngest son of Duterte, elected Davao vice mayor in 2019, is seeking the city’s mayoral seat, a post held by his sister Sara who is seeking the vice presidency.

Before giving the unsolicited advice to his son, Duterte lashed out at critics of his bloody war on drugs who elevated the matter to the International Criminal Court (ICC). 

“Ingnon nako ang mga human rights ug ang International Criminal Court, mag-mayor ka, ma-presidente ka, kung dili mahadlok sa imo ang mga kriminal wa gyud kay silbi,” said Duterte. 

(I will tell these human rights groups and the International Criminal Court that if you become a mayor, become a president, but these criminals aren’t afraid of you, you’re useless.) 

He added, “Katong na presidente ko, mao gihapon akong mantra. Giignan nako, do not destroy my country with drugs. Ayawg bahugi ang among mga anak kay mao ra na among sa kinabuhi, sinaligan, kay inig ka tiguwang namo, mao nay mubantay namo. Og himoon na ninyong buang, p***ng ina! Yarion ta gyud mo!” 

(When I became president, I still had the same mantra. I said, ‘Do not destroy my country with drugs. Don’t feed our children with drugs because they are our life. We depend on them especially when we become old as they will take care of us. If you’d turn them crazy, son of a b***ch, I’m gonna finish you off!)

Cristina Palabay, secretary-general of the rights groups Karapatan, called Duterte’s brand of politics “detestable.”

She said that the Duterte administration has been characterized by “mass murder,” and that the President was passing on “his bloody legacy of extrajudicial killings to his children.”

“It is utterly revolting and despicable,” said Palabay.

Meanwhile, Duterte reiterated his stand not to endorse a presidential candidate, but he spoke admiringly of his daughter, Sara, who left right away after her talk that lasted about 30 minutes. 

He said the vice-presidential candidate has many of his qualities, although she has a stricter work ethic. 

Duterte tried to justify the political dynasty he established, saying his family members’ political careers weren’t similar to members of other political families. 

“Pila ka tuig gud ko ninyong gihimong mayor. Mag-ilis ilis na lang gud mi ni Inday (Sara), dili tungod kay gusto mi og political dynasty. Nahibawo ko ana, taga Davao gud ko, nahibawo ko unsa ang sitwasyon nga imong suluhon ang gobyerno. DIli na maoy akong tuyo” he said. 

(For many years, you made me your mayor. Even if Inday and I took turns, it didn’t mean we wanted a political dynasty. I know what that is because I am from Davao. I know the situation when you want to monopolize governance. That is not my intent.)

Duterte attended his son’s rally to endorse his children’s respective bids for various positions.

One of his sons, reelectionist Davao 1st District Representative Paolo “Polong” Duterte, was not at the rally.

The miting de avance of the Hugpong ng Pagbabago-Hugpong sa Tawong Lungsod (HNP-HTL) ticket was held in front of Davao City Hall.

Streets near city hall were closed from 5 am to 11 pm for the rally. 

In March, Mayor Duterte banned the holding of political caravans, motorcades, and similar activities in the city to avoid crowding due to the COVID-19 pandemic. –

Grace Cantal-Albasin is a Mindanao-based journalist and an awardee of Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship.