Editorial: Smuggling, not the 'death' warning

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Friday, January 10, 2014

IT'S once again a battle of words between the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte over "ethics" issue. This time the CHR reacted to statements issued by the city mayor, who said he will "kill" rice smugglers should they continue to operate in the city.

Duterte's statement did not sit well with Marc Titus Cebreros, chief of the CHR Information and Communication Division, and CHR Chair Loretta Ann Rosales who both stressed that Duterte's warning is "unethical."

In a report posted on ABS-CBN website, Cebreros said, "It's unbecoming of a public official like him. It gives the impression that we are not living under a government of laws." He also announced that he is poised to send a formal letter to Duterte informing the latter that "there is something alarming and wrong with his statement."


Duterte, on the other hand, disputed this and told the CHR officials to "shut up!"

"Anong unethical? Talagang gagawin ko. Point out to me a law which is I cannot threaten the criminals. Shut up! I said you have nothing between your ears," he said.

The problem on rice smuggling has been going on since time immemorial and nobody has stopped it. No one. Really.

Just like any other issues in this country ruled by leaders, who are only good at telling their constituents that they will "investigate" this and that, the rice smuggling issue will just die, then resurrect.

Now, it has started to become a hot issue once again after Duterte revealed that the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Commissioner Kim Henares called him and sought for his help to curb it. After Henares, the next official who dialed him was the solicitor-general.

Duterte, as an elected public official, said he has to follow the National Government's order as he is bound to do so. He maintained his stance that "killing" these smugglers would in a way stop their activities.

It's just ironic that the people who sought Duterte's help and the people who disapproved his words are all leaders of the National Government -- they are all bound to protect the people and the nation.

These leaders have to keep in mind that the true issue here is not actually Duterte's stern warning against rice smugglers, but rice smuggling itself.

It's about time to solve the problem. It's about time to make this issue die.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on January 10, 2014.


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