DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 9 Jan) – Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte lambasted the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) for saying that his death threats against rice smugglers operating in the city was “unethical,” adding that he really meant his warning.
Manila newspapers quoted CHR Chairman Loretta Ann Rosales as saying that Duterte’s threat was “unethical.” Marc Titus Cebreros, chief of the CHR Information and Communication Division, was also quoted as saying that the mayor’s statement was “unbecoming of a public official.”
Duterte threatened to kill smugglers operating in the city during his weekly show Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa last Sunday.
“Anong unethical? Talagang gagawin ko! (What do you mean unethical? I’m really going to do it!)” Duterte said in an interview with reporters at the Waterfront Insular Hotel here on Wednesday.
Duterte challenged the CHR to point out a law in which he cannot threaten criminals to stop operating in the city.
The mayor said that he was willing to go to prison if need be if it meant protecting the farmers.
“I’m old. Papatayin ko talaga kayo. (I will really kill you.) We’re losing billions and billions of pesos and reducing the Filipino farmer to poverty,” he said.
“If I take the law into my own hands, it’s not their problem. It’s mine. I’ll answer for that. The problem is the [Bureau of] Customs and the smuggled rice,” Duterte said.
He dared the CHR to help protect the farmers instead.
Asked if he was willing to retract his statement, Duterte remarked, “Sige ibahin ko, ‘Kayong mga smugglers, huwag kayong mag smuggle para hindi kayo mamatay,’ is that acceptable to them?” (Okay let me change my statement, ‘You smugglers, stop smuggling so you won’t die.’)
The mayor lamented the absence of the CHR’s comments when other issues arose in the past, especially during the investigations on the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). “There was not a single statement about ethics then,” he said.