The Duterte brand can hardly be spoken elsewhere without reference to the dreaded death squad. While residents would say it is only a means to a new beginning, the mayor can’t simply detach his attachment to this practice. The mayors tough stance against criminals and the stern warning of death against anyone does not help him improve his attached image to the dreaded group.
Should he run for president, you bet the first mudslinging issue that would be hurled agains him would be this practice. Perhaps, his opponents would say he is a psychopath or a trigger-happy leader such as the one recently thrown against him by a congressman.
Is the Mayor involved? Most people would answer in the affirmative. Common sense dictates that it’s hard to imagine that the city’s executive talking tough against criminals can be detached from his involvement in the said crime. Also, it’s hard to imagine that the execute who can effectively push for his anti-criminal policies cannot prevent such a extra-judicial group from doing their job in the city. At the very least, he is already complicit with his pronouncement –
“If you are doing an illegal activity in my city, if you are a criminal or part of a syndicate that preys on the innocent people of the city, for as long as I am the mayor, you are a legitimate target of assassination.”
Students of contemporary law and morality will find this practice appalling. Why such law of the jungle still exists in modern society such as the one in Davao? The killings of criminals without given them a chance in court shudder the thought of many who are raised in a society where rule of law is the helm. But for many residents who seem to be beneficiaries of the decimation of criminals, they normally just shrug off the practice as essential.
Are the residents like a modern game players who are desensitise with the crime? Maybe. Maybe not. At the very least, you can sense that they can rationalise the practice as essential as a must-be for a society thriving out of a no-man’s land because of lawlessness. In the article about pragmatism, the end may somewhat justifies the means when the right ingredient are there – when people have meagre means to go through the long process of the law’s due process.
Criminals in a out of court drained cities’ resources that could have been better spent to other endeavours like infrastructure. Another aspect of the death squad, how was it able to become a very efficient and effective killing machine? That is, how it was able to do very minimal collateral damage and achieve elimination of mostly those social undesirables who push for drugs and other crimes threatening the welfare of the city dwellers? One police narrated that before there was any contract to kill certain individuals, there is a significant surveillance ensuring they are targeting the exact number of people who are really involve.
This far for from being “bulong-system” used by the communist to eliminate prospective enemy sympathizers. Any targets have their due of being enlisted. Crime-fighting and intelligence budget in Davao is significant. This allows them to narrow down prospects and limit the damage they may inflict on wrong targets. This explains why the death squad get their job done.
With high accuracy, this limits the reaction of number of people who can mob and fight against the practices by protesting on the streets of Davao. So effective that the spate of killings in other cities such as Tagum or the few in Cebu are said to have been patterned after the ones done in Davao.
To a pragmatist, the killings are just one of its effective means elimating the cost and threat in the shortest time possible.