The making of a legend

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Sunday, June 15, 2014

HOW Mayor Rodrigo Duterte manages the peace in Davao City is the stuff of legend. However, how much of the perception is true and how much is a product of myth-making is still to be answered with certainty. Still, the praise Duterte is getting has gotten so pervasive, especially in this age of the social media, that some sectors want him to run the entire country.

The image of Duterte as an iron-fisted mayor was largely shaped in the initial years of his rule. His disdain for the criminal types was noted both in his talk and in his actions. This was strengthened with the killing of suspected criminals and the surfacing of the so-called Davao Death Squad, a development that the mayor obviously tolerated.

Upon this development was shaped the perception of Davao City as crime-free. Of course, that hinges much on the weird view that vigilante killings were no crime. The truth is murders like those would raise considerably the crime volume in any crime index. But this point did not seem to factor in the perception of the city as virtually crime-free.


It is in this context that the recent murder of businessman Richard King played out. King was shot by a man who didn’t even bother to cover his face while King was having dinner with his employees inside the building that he owns in Sobrecary St., Davao City last Thursday. It was a crime that reverberated from that city to Cebu because King is based here.

The circumstances surrounding his death showed how confident King was in Davao City’s peace and order situation. Or at least that was what Davao City Police Office Chief Vicente Danao Jr. thought. For one, King roamed that city without armed escorts.

“Diyan sa Cebu, allegedly marami siyang kasama. Dito wala siyang armed security personnel to protect him. Siguro very confident siya dito,” Danao said.

King’s Vital C building also doesn’t have security cameras and no blue guard was around to deter the gunman when he entered the structure. That though cannot solely be because of “confidence” but can also be because King, like many businessmen, was saving on operating costs. The importance of blue guards and security cameras only surfaces when crimes are committed and when such incidents are being investigated.

King, with due respect to his relatives, was no angel. Also, the scope of his business concerns is wide, straddling not only Cebu and Davao but also a few other provinces in the country. Thus, the police are able to come up with various angles on the killing, which is not exactly good because investigators favor the particular over the general in plotting motives.

The most recent development in the investigation is that the police have formed, again, a task force to look in to the killing. Special Investigation Task Group Richard King is composed of investigators from the two cities of Davao and Cebu.

This is important because there is this theory that the gunman may have followed King from Cebu to Davao. But if the killer is from Cebu, then that should be an insult for Duterte and Davao. It’s already bad that a killing was perpetrated there; it would be worse still if the killer was an outsider.

It’s akin to an invasion.

A P500,000 reward has already been offered for information on the killer, with the P200,000 coming from the King family and the rest coming from Duterte. The mayor held a press conference after the killing and comforted King’s relatives. This means he is genuinely concerned with what happened.

The murder may be an isolated incident, but it somehow put a dent on the widely held perception about the peace and order situation in Davao City.

This has proven that no matter the circumstance, a determined criminal can succeed in implementing his plan.


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 16, 2014.


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