CHR tells Duterte: Act like a mayor

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CHR chairperson Loretta Ann Rosales says Duterte's shoot-to-kill order against rice smugglers sends 'the wrong signals that invite vigilantism'

NO THREATS. The Commission on Human Rights reprimands Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte for statements made before media. File photo by Karlos Manlupig/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – It’s not how a local chief executive should act.

Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chairperson Loretta Ann Rosales reprimanded Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte for threatening to have rice smugglers and criminals shot dead in his city.

In a letter dated January 10 but released to media on Tuesday, January 21, Rosales said Duterte’s threats were “sending the wrong signals that invite vigilantism.”

Speaking to local media, Davao Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte told Rosales to “just do her job.” “Do you job, di na daghang storya. Kung mao na imong plano, buhata,” the vice mayor, son of Mayor Duterte, said. 

(Do you job, don’t just talk. If that’s your plan, then do it.) 

The letter was written to officially acknowledge the “threat” Duterte made against rice smugglers. On Jan 7, 2014, Duterte said during a press conference: “I want smuggling of rice in my city stopped. But if you still do not stop your smuggling activities, I will kill you.”

Earlier, Duterte also confirmed issuing a “shoot-to-kill” order against lawless elements in Davao City. Around the same time, police in Davao killed 3 suspected kidnappers in an entrapment operation.

“Simply put, ordering law enforcement officers to ‘shoot to kill’ suspects, or threatening smugglers to leave your area out of their operations or ‘I will kill you,’ is no way for a local chief executive to lead,” said Rosales.

Duterte is known for his tough approach to lawlessness. At the height of reports of looting in areas affected by Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), the mayor said he instructed his security force to shoot at anybody who tried to loot a convoy delivering relief goods to Leyte.

The CHR, through its Legal and Investigation Office (LIO), is now checking if Duterte’s statements “have influenced or affected the professional behavior of local police.”

Rosales said the LIO was also told to “actively monitor” a case on the “Davao Death Squad killings.”

The CHR chief left Duterte with a reminder, quoting the PNP Guidebook on Human Rights-Based Policing: “In today’s police paradigm…the death of a person (whether that person is a criminal, suspect, victim, hostage or innocent bystander) resulting out of a police intervention is generally considered an operational failure.”

The younger Duterte was unfazed by the CHR’s letter, reiterating his support for the older Duterte. “At the end of the day, ako gihapon siyang amahan. Kung unsa man gawas ani na ilang pagbanga, didto gyud ko magsuporta sa akong amahan, ilabi na mayor nato siya sa Davao.” 

(He’s still my father. Whatever comes out of this, I’m still going to support my father, especially because he’s our mayor.) 

Read the letter in full here:

– with reports from Karlos Manlupig, Bea Cupin/

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