Editorial: Death threats and rice smugglers-A A +A
Monday, January 6, 2014
IT’S the start of a new year and Dabawenyos were again glued to their television Sunday morning to watch their favorite show, “Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa” where they listen to Mayor Rodrigo Duterte spill out his views, and yes, occasionally threaten lawbreakers and political foes amid a battery of curses.
It’s entertainment cum information, a surreal prelude or afterword to Sunday mass, depending on which mass schedule you attend. Go ask ABS-CBN how it normally tilts the ratings every time the mayor is the one seated. From inside information, the viewership trickles down within the next 15 minutes when someone else is featured. This is enough illustration on how fixated Dabawenyos are to their mayor.
Last Sunday, the mayor was on verbal rampage against rice smugglers that ended with a threat to kill.
The uninitiated may flinch and cry grave threat. But the well-initiated will know, it will not stand in court.
It’s been decades since we’ve heard threats in different forms on our Sunday television fare, and it gets to be tricky. But these long decades will also show how the mayor can stand on his claim that it was never he who had someone killed.
Like last Sunday.
What did he say?
“Kamong mga smugglers, pangita mo'g laing lugar asa ninyo na ilaglag nang inyong smuggled goods. Ayaw diri kay mahibaw-an taka nga rice dealer, rice trader ka, una-una naa koy visitorial rights (You, smugglers, should find other place for your smuggled goods. Don’t ship them here. Once I've learned you’re a rice dealer or a rice trader, I will exercise my visitorial powers),” he said.
“I-checkpoint ta ka ingnan nako ang police, pagkahuman bisitahon nako imong warehouse, tan-awon nako imong electricity connections. Tan-awon nako ang structural sa inyong bodega. Unya ingnan nako ang BIR nga tan-awa ninyo ang libro. Ug di ka pa gyud muundang, patyon ta ka. Simple as that. Kasabot mo? Patyon ta ka (I will personally visit your warehouse. See your electricity connections, its warehouse structures. I will even seek information from the BIR. If you fail to desist from smuggling, I will kill you),” he added.
“Ug di ka pa gyud muundang?” is the phrase that makes the threat iffy in court, after all, all the prerequisites were laid down -- the police, the building inspectors, the BIR, even the Coast Guard and the Customs. Somewhere along the way, a violation can be found and a case can easily be filed.
What if the suspected rice smuggler does get killed somehow? The threat was “patyon ta ka” after the whole process is done with and if the suspect persists on his illegal trade. It wasn’t “ipapatay ta ka.” He also did say, “kamong mga smugglers,” right? Now how would you come forward to say I was threatened by the mayor?
We’re not defending the threat nor the language, we’re just saying that, indeed, it will be difficult to throw a single book at a mayor because of his verbal rampage. We just have to remember that he was once a city prosecutor handling cases of policemen and rebels long before he became mayor. He knows the language of the gutters, he knows the law, and thus, he knows the farthest edge of what’s legal and releases his verbal rampage from there.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on January 07, 2014.