COMMENTARY: Davao City is a Paradise in the East. By Salvador "Doy" Valbuena

The power of Mayor Duterte emanates from the people who elected him. It is just but proper that the people of Davao City must have the first chance to judge him. But have we not judged him by electing him for the longest time as Mayor of this city for about two decades now? Is this not the best indication that the will and the voice of the people have spoken? That the people of Davao City approve of his way of governance? 

Why doesn't the Commission on Human Rights conduct a survey or referendum whether we, the people of Davao City as a whole, like how the mayor conducts himself on the issue of peace and order and even specifically on the issue on human rights? I am very sure that majority of Davaoeños will come out voting “Yes” in affirmation that will shame people from the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), or shall I say Commission on Hypocritical Rectitude (CHR) masquerading as saviors of the people of Davao City. To tell us that we do not approve how Mayor Duterte runs Davao City is a great insult to the intelligence and courage of Davaoeños.

If the Mayor is truly abusive of his power and has no respect for the rule of law and the right to peace and decency, I should be one of those who should be on the streets leading a rally of protesters as we wont to do during the First Quarter Storm when we fought the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos whom we thought then was the worst president this country ever had, only to find out that the worst were still to follow. (I led several street protests when we complained against the DPWH and the Union Cement when I was president of the Davao Constructors Association Center, Inc.)

I heard the Mayor mentioned many times over, that Davao City is a city for peace loving citizens. If you are not a peace loving citizen, this place is not for you because you will not last long to enjoy living in our city. His paradigm of drug pushers and drug addicts are people who can rape their sister or mother or an 18-month-old baby girl or kill their father or brother or friend or neighbor in wild abandon. Now, I myself ask the question, why do these people who have no regard for the life of others continue to live or how can these so called human rights advocates even favor their existence over that of peace loving citizens?

Am I saying that I favor summary executions? Of course not, this is against the commandment of God “Thou shall not kill”. How I wish we can all live in peace altogether living in pursuit of the summum bonum, the highest good for all. But alas, we are now left to choose by force of circumstance and select between lesser evils, whether to allow people who have no respect for life and the right of others to live and do it in wild abandon or to allow them to rest in peace forever and let peaceful loving citizens live happily ever after.

Now am I accusing the Mayor to be behind the killings? Of course not! That is for the court to determine. What I know is Davao City is the most peaceful and livable city I have seen on Planet Earth. (I have also traveled in several countries and continents of the world.) On the other hand, I am one among the many who believe that the Mayor is doing extremely and exceedingly well in the conduct of his duty in which he was elected for. 

Madame Chairperson De Lima, you need not have traveled far. You should have looked around and you would have your hands full investigating cases of human rights violations in Manila . Aren’t you not the proverbial character in the Bible that the Lord would have aptly put, "Why can you see the mote in your brother's eye and not see the log in your own eye”? The truth of the matter is, you just wasted valuable public money by coming here to Davao City to investigate and tell us what is good for us…

Is this not the height of self righteousness and presumptuousness? Is it not stealing from the budget of education and printing misspelled books resulting to higher rate of illiteracy and lack of good education, a higher form of violation of human rights? Is it not dipping one’s fingers on the coffers of government finances depriving people of food, medicines, basic necessities and other social services; teachers of their rightful pay and soldiers of their shoe
s, combat allowance and guns to fight insurgency, a higher form of human rights violation?

Is it not the inability of government to provide employment for its people and allowing Filipinos to work abroad as slaves of the First World countries who oftentimes maltreat them and who sacrifice their own well being, just so they can provide for the needs of their loved ones, resulting in the breakdown and disintegration of the basic unit of society — the family an institution we value so dearly, a higher form of violation of human rights? Is it not the promotion of government officials with dubious and proven record of malfeasance and wrongdoing because of loyalty and subservience, so that they can deliver the goods to the powers that be, a higher form of human rights violation? 

For a young man who grew up and seen almost daily killings during my elementary years in Badoc, Ilocos Norte and having witnessed blood flowing down in my direction and with dead people all around during a town fiesta at a very young age of 11 when somebody sprayed three banana type magazines of his carbine rifle and emptying them all at the people in the auditorium…For a college student during the First Quarter Storm to have witnessed summary killings like that of my fraternity brod Billy Begg riddled with bullets from one whole Armalite magazine emptied on his lifeless body and street demonstrations from 1969 to 1973, culminating in the so called BARIKADA in 1971….. For a new college graduate to have worked in the hinterlands and logging areas of Mindanao in the 1970s at the height of the operations of the MNLF, Ilagas and Bangsamoro Movement and having experienced being attacked from land and sea, and knowing a life of killing and being killed almost on a daily basis….. For an executive having seen Davao City during the time when Agdao was called Nicaragdao, during the height of NPA operations when policemen were killed in broad daylight and when a grenade was thrown at the inner sanctum of the San Pedro Cathedral wreaking havoc and causing the city populace to cower in fear… to name a few….

Madame Chair De Lima, I know from whence I speak. I know the difference between war and peace, between death and bliss. To consider Davao City as barbaric and a dangerous place to live in, is farthest from the truth. Davaoeños would be the first one to know. Leave us alone in peace in this place you abhor for I repeat it again, Davao City is the most livable and peaceful city in the world. To us, this is a place closest to paradise. A Paradise in the East. 

(Salvador "Doy" Valbuena is an Ilocano who has decided to stay for good in Davao City. He is president of the Subdivision and Housing Developers Association Southern Mindanao Chapter and a web proprietor who owns selling real estate property)