When Death Squad Fails – The Tagum City Experiment

New City Hall of TagumWhen news of extra-judicia killings happening in some cities such as Tagum and Cebu, rumours spread quickly that it is a copy-cat borrowed from the system proven in Davao. Some rumours went as far as the Mayors in their cities asked for a “solution” from Duterte what to do with the rise of crimes in their cities and the response was that the Davao Mayor handed them some form of blueprint of the dreaded Davao Death Squad.

How true it is we won’t have any proof or actual proof for such a suspicion is hard to come by knowing the secrecy of the hand-over if there’s any. At least, we could surmise that a similar solution was attempted regardless whether there was indeed a request and response going among local executives.

But the killings in one city for instance Tagum has not gone unnoticed by the human rights advocate. The video shows of a former liquidator confessing the crimes the city mayor had committed during his reign of terror in the city. Why such a whistle-blower came out from among the people involved? Davao had decades and we have yet to see someone confessing of doing the most horrendous act in the face of human rights activists and implicate the local executive.

1. Rey Uy is not a strongman

He doesn’t have the aura of fearsomeness among his constituents. He is mostly known of spearheading the transformation of Tagum into a bustling progressive city and won himself a Mayor of the year Award from the national government. But to lead crime-fighting stance, he seems to have none developed over the years. In short, Death Squad is not for people with weak image.

2. Money is not on the table

Except from being nice and having strong personal relationship, what is that one thing that can make people do for them with the least risk of them spilling out the beans? The quick answer is money. Davao has huge budget for intelligence a luxury Rey Uy never had so it is harder for him to contain and maintain loyalist among his circle of crime-busters.

3. He is not impeccable as Rudy Duterte

One thing that limits the replication of pragmatic death squad in Tagum city is the fact that the mayor himself is not an epitome of clean image. In order to achieve loyalty among his hitman, the mayor must portray a full crime-fighting image and not interested of using them as a political weapon of eliminating his political opponents.

Many people might had raised their eyebrows when he raised PNOY’s hand during the 2010 presidential election knowing well his dirty exploits. According to some, the Mayor is a lot like Marcos. He is alleged to have asked for certain stock percentage or profits from businesspeople wanting to run their operation in the city.

The hitman may have one reason to turn against him as he could not reconcile the purpose of extermination coming from an man who is not known for clean image.

4. Duterte may have the knack for it while others like Rey don’t

There is one big reason why some people became political strongmen – they simply have a knack for it. This is probably one area where Rey is in short supply.

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