A few days ago when President Duterte made some statements about killing criminals in Davao City, the mainstream media, particularly CNN, BBC, and the local ABS-CBN, Rappler, GMA, clearly took Duterte’s words out of context.
Most of the headlines read: Duterte: I personally killed drug suspects, Philippines’ Duterte admits personally killing suspects’, Duterte admits personally killing suspected criminals.’
These headlines were way so far from the truth about what President Duterte actually said.
First is, Duterte never said, I personally killed drug suspects, just like in one headline. What he actually said was this:
“I know it because—I am not trying to pull my own chair—in Davao I used to do it personally. Just to show to the guys that if I can do it, why can’t you?”
He did not say that he did it personally to drug suspects. There was no ‘drug suspects’ that came out from his mouth.
Even so, we can automatically assume that he killed ‘drug suspects’ based on his statement because the issue at hand is Duterte’s ‘War on Drugs.’
So what he actually meant was that he killed criminals who were on the act of doing the crime or those who have committed the crime already and that they resisted arrest. Meaning, he killed a criminal during an encounter or a shootout, or an exchange of gunfires.
In the context of what he said about going around the city with his motorcycle looking for trouble the statement was just an exaggeration of what actually he was capable of when he was still the Mayor of the city. All Dabawenyos know this, including I, that Mayor Duterte indeed roamed around the city to look for criminals whether he was on motorcycle or not.
There had been times that he pretended to be a taxi driver with his cap on (so he won’t be recognized) to catch a mugger himself. Muggers at those years pretending to be innocent passengers who rob taxi drivers out of their day’s earnings.
However, at least as far as my memory is concerned, Duterte had not been able to catch a mugger in those years. There never was an incident that he killed a man or a criminal who were in the process of doing the crime. Never was an incident that he gunned down a criminal who were doing the crime. If the police caught a criminal, they would handcuff him and not gun him down. Although there were reports that drug suspects were being gunned down in the city. But that’s another story.
Here is what he said about roaming around the city.
“I go around in Davao (on) a big bike and I would just patrol the streets and looking for trouble. I was really looking for an encounter to kill.”
We can’t tell that indeed he killed a drug suspect by just hearing those statements by Duterte. We even cannot tell or know if what he said was true or not. How can we prove it? By judging on what has been happening today? Judging on the killings in Davao that really took place during Mayor Duterte’s time?
Even the President himself cannot prove it judging from those words that come out from his mouth.