DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/03 July) — In July 2002, then Mayor Rodrigo Duterte graced the pages of Time Magazine as “The Punisher.” Nine years later, on July 1, 2011, his daughter Sara Duterte-Carpio became a trending topic on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other social networking sites as “The Puncher” who may face possible charges, allegedly from reprimand to dismissal, for punching a sheriff after a demolition she wanted delayed for two hours to avoid violence, turned violent.
“The Punisher,” who is known to be at odds with “The Puncher,” announced in his Sunday television program that he is proud of his mayor-daughter, a lawyer like himself.
“You were elected by the people to defend them. You were just doing your job,” Duterte the father said.
For humanitarian reasons, the mayor said she requested for the two-hour extension, or until 11a.m., so that she could still hold a dialogue with the residents before enforcing the demolition order. She added no violence could have ensued had the sheriff listened to her.
Before proceeding to the demolition site, the mayor was attending to victims of Tuesday’s flash floods that killed 30 persons, most of them children.
She clarified that she did not order a stop to the demolition that would affect 220 families occupying the 2,000 square meter lot. She said she only wanted to have it enforced peacefully.
“There was almost a massacre. A riot was happening. She used her authority to prevent bloodshed but the sheriff defied her order. In fact the sheriff was ordering the police, when as the city mayor she has the supervisory function over them. The sheriff deputized the police, the sheriff usurped the function of the chief executive,” said the elder Duterte, a prosecutor who was named OIC vice mayor after the Marcos ouster in 1986 and who served as mayor from 1988 to 2010, interrupted only by a stint in Congress from 1998 to 2001.
“In every violent situation the people always ask what, what did the mayor do? They will not ask the court, the sheriff.” He said the mayor asked for a two-hour reprieve, to ensure the demolition is carried out peacefully but she was defied. “The court order had already resulted to a social problem and a massacre was in the offing,” he said.
He said if his daughter is removed from office, she should run again because she will win again, and if she will be disbarred, let it be said that it was because she tried to protect her constituents.
“What do you want? Enforce the court order even if people will die?” the vice mayor asked.
Praises and Criticisms
Mayor Duterte’s punching act drew praises and criticisms.
In the city’s public markets, churches, hospitals, parks, beauty parlors, in bus and jeepney terminals and other public places, and in cyberspace, social networking sites and mobile phones, the mayor’s rage was the raging topic. In the city, the mayor’s act drew more support than condemnation.
Psychologist Gail Ilagan, who writes the column, “Wayward and Fanciful” for MindaNews, said, “Many saw it as a girl power. It has novelty factor for the generation raised on a diet of Charlie’s Angels, Angeline Jolie and Uma Thurman. Approval also appears connected to expectation of Duterte behavior, whether that’s well-founded or not. She is her father’s daughter. I see that she was extremely stressed, coming off from dealing with the Matina flood. She snapped at the aggravation.”
Ilagan said that from her informal poll of sidewalk denizens and public utility commuters, “seven in ten see it as a Robin Hood defense of the downtrodden.”
Writing in his column, “Public Lives” in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, sociologist Randy David said, “It is a long time since this country has witnessed a spectacle such as this. People will be talking about it for a long time. Public opinion will almost certainly be divided between those who would condemn the mayor, herself a lawyer, for placing herself above the law, and those who would praise her for not hesitating to take responsibility in a messy situation in order to restore the peace and avoid further injustice. The debate will pit people who understand the need for a strong godfather-like leadership in a society where the legitimacy of legal institutions is not secure, against those who would insist on the unconditional professionalization of governance.”
The 33-year old Mayor Duterte, who prefers to be called Inday Sara, has just completed her first year as mayor. July 1 marked Day One of her second year in office. She was elected mayor for 2010 to 2013. She was vice mayor from 2007 to 2010. (MindaNews)