Despite his brash talk and bragging that he has killed more than 1,700 criminals, Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte continues to fire up the interest of voters even as he hinted he may not be able to finish his term for health reasons.
Amnesty International, the London-based human rights watchdog, has raised its concern on what a Duterte presidency could be like. Summary killings and extrajudicial executions could be the norm.
Local human rights advocates caution voters to be careful what they wish for. Some sectors, however, welcome how Duterte’s iron-fist treatment of criminals, particularly those who commit heinous offenses like murder, rape and drug-trafficking, which earned his city of Davao a reputation of being one of the safest cities in the world. There are even opinion writers who romanticize the tough, no-nonsense mayor perhaps because his rivals are blah, boring and perceived as the same rehashed politicians. People like Duterte’s tough-guy image. When he says he will feed and fatten the fish in Manila Bay with the bodies of criminals, somehow one gets a sense he can deliver on his threat.
I myself have given Duterte the moniker “Rody Do Dirty” as a play on words instead of the “Dirty Harry” tag of Manila Mayor Fred Lim who gained the rep after the Clint Eastwood role in the film of the same title. A reader who didn’t quite get it said I gave Duterte the Do Dirty label because I was an attack dog for a certain candidate. For the record, in the same column I wrote about Duterte, I made clear I don’t see anyone of the five presidential candidates worth voting for.
If Duterte himself said he’s going to do the dirty job of sweeping out criminals—feet first—then by all means, he has earned the tag “Rody Do Dirty.” It is dirty work, but someone has to do it because crime has gotten out of hand. Local governments and police enforcers failed miserably in protecting the citizenry. There are even instances when policemen rob and rape female suspects in their custody. Clearly, Duterte’s surge in the SWS poll surveys as the most preferred candidate for president is being driven by the runaway crime. I have no problem with Duterte bringing back the death penalty and executing death convicts on a weekly basis. Who knows it may put the fear of God back in the dark heart of criminals who kill their victims. It may also decongest death row in the national penitentiary.
Whenever I take a taxicab, I often ask the driver who is his choice for president in 2016. The answer in four out of five is Duterte. My random survey may not be as scientific compared to SWS but no one commissioned and paid me. Somehow, the taxi drivers’ response to “Dirty Rody” reflects their desperation to finding a savior from the perils they experience at the hands of “holduppers” who steal their earning, their taxicabs and sometimes even kill them to eliminate witnesses. I can empathize with their plight and the attraction to Duterte’s brand of vigilante justice.
To be fair, there are some redeeming features of Duterte’s campaign platform like his proposal for a federal form of government and to abolish Congress IF it becomes an obstruction to meaningful reforms. The people are tired of lapdog legislators who sell out to the President to gain favors and pork barrel funds. But can we be assured that Duterte won’t abolish Congress just because it does not agree with his policy? It’s such a leap of faith to entrust too much power on just one man without the Constitutional check and balance.
Spurious land titles
Eric San Juan, host of the weekly news forum Balitaan sa Rembrandt, sent us this interesting item on the proliferation of spurious land titles in the country. The revelation is the subject of a 110-page book by activist and author Daniel Frieneza launched at the Hotel Rembrandt in Quezon City last week. Frieneza who did extensive research on how the use of the Torrens title dating from the Spanish times to the present, had been abused and given rise to hundreds of thousands of fake land titles.
Quite possibly, even the land where SM Megamall and Trinoma in Quezon City are sitting on could have doubtful provenance. This was according to lawyer Virgilio Pablico of the chief of the legal section of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group whose help Frieneza enlisted in the writing of his book. The proliferation of fake land titles was exposed in 1964 during the time of former President Diosdado Macapagal, Land Registration Commissioner Antonio Noblejas and National Bureau of Investigation Director Jolly Bugarin. Some 100,000 Original Certificates of Titles (OCTs) with no probative origin were discovered and the resolution of some of these cases are still pending.
In his book, “The Torrens System: A Gateway for the Flooding of Fake Land Titles,” Frianeza chronicled how land grabbers took large tracts of land when the country was still under Spanish colonial rule. The practice continued to the present where fake OCTs have been replicated into millions of Transfer of Certificates of Titles (TCTs). A flawed justice system that sometimes decide land litigation cases in favor of the moneyed and landed gentry abetted the ownership of fake titles.
I suggest readers buy the book if they have interests in real estate, business and the law.