[Reflection] Brazen Display of Power


Davao Mayor Sara Duterte punching a sheriff. Photo from newsinfo.inquirer.net

The TV footage last Friday which caught Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte punching a local court sheriff who was then serving a demolition order struck me as something very odd but not unusual.

It was very odd for me to see a local government official who came from a political clan not known to have a soft spot for the well being and interest of their constituents to go out of her way even preventing the execution of a court order to make her appear as if she cares for them.

But it was not unusual to see a local government official to brazenly display her power and in this case even her physical power over a hapless government employee who was just following an order.

While others may find her action laudable for showing a firm resolve to stop the demolition team headed by the poor sheriff from tearing down the shanties of 217 families inside a contested property in Barangay Soliman in Davao’s Agdao district, but the unnecessary use of violence on the part of Mayor Duterte only shows what she is capable of doing with the power she has. Perhaps taking some lessons from her dad, Rodrigo, a long-time Davao City mayor who was allegedly behind the vigilante Davao Death Squad, and now serves as the city’s vice mayor.

As far as I remember, it is not the first time a politician is involved in a violent skirmish. A year ago a mayor from Lanao Del Sur was accused of mauling a businsessman and his son at the Valley Golf Club in Antipolo City. This kind of actuation, I believe, exemplifies the character of our local politicians who act like monarchs with unbridled arrogance and no respect for others by demonstrating their complete authority over their domains.

Mayor Duterte’s claim that she felt insulted by the sheriff’s insistence on serving the notice of eviction when she was asking for a two-hour reprieve provided us a clear motive that she was acting to salvage her wounded pride than to prevent a possible violent confrontation between the demolition team and the informal settlers.

In the first place, if the good mayor is really concerned with the safety of informal settlers living in danger zone, her government should have long provided the people with a decent housing program and not to wait for this mess to happen.

I fully support the public call for a nationwide moratorium on demolition not to make local government officials look good and caring but because it is a recognition of our right to housing and the state’s obligation to fulfill this right by developing and implementing policies which will lead to the realization of a mass housing program for the poor with the guarantee of job provision and delivery of basic social services.

This should be the way how the government officials must use their power because the power they have as our Constitution says, does not emanate from them but from the people.

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