Tubong Dabaw

People wonder why Dabaweños made such a big deal about the kidnap-for-ransom incident that happened last July 11, 2013 and I can’t help but frown. Why shouldn’t Dabaweños make a big deal out of it? Why should the mayor be castigated for the kind of method he used in addressing the problem? Why are these people quick to assume that the Dabaweños were ‘happy’ (to borrow the word used by this woman who considers herself a Bali cliche) about the incident and that our support for Tito Rody’s (Tito Rody because Mayor Rodrigo Duterte is considered everyone’s favorite uncle! Heck even our taxi drivers refer to him in a similar manner.) strong hand in keeping the city safe was a form of fanaticism?

Obviously, these people do not understand.

lockdown2-300x336Photo credit: News Desk Asia

I am a Dabaweño. I was born in Davao City. I grew up in Davao City and while growing up, I was witness to many crimes – from the horrid bombing that happened in the San Pedro Cathedral which killed many and injured hundreds (might I also mention the bombing of the old airport and Sasa pier as suggested by one of the readers, Cecil), to friends being gunned down (some even bludgeoned to death) during gang riots, all the way to petty thievery (back then even sports caps were targeted that can really irk you still). I can even remember older relatives talking amongst themselves about how the city was ascribed as one of Mindanao’s ‘salvage’ area. Salvage also has a different meaning in this part of the country and for those of you who do not know, salvage (as opposed to the original meaning) is to kill someone. Maybe it’s not entirely different after all; because in a way, by killing one, you are saving ten others. If you, like me, have witnessed these and was then introduced to a certain change in your community that will help eradicate the bad elements that were suffocating the city, wouldn’t you embrace it too?

220px-Rodrigo_Duterte_(2009)Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte

Under Mayor Duterte’s leadership, Davao City has maintained its peace and stability. The city’s crime rate dropped dramatically (and I’m not exaggerating when I write this) and  residents are now enjoying the security that branched out from years of nurturing that sense of belongingness – being in one family, in one house with every member safe in the family’s backyard. Davao City thrives because everyone works together with this in mind and there’s nothing wrong with protecting your family and ensuring that your home remains in tact, clean, and safe. What’s even better is, gates are open to any one who wants to be part of this family; just as long as you don’t jeopardize anyone else.

Because of this, many enjoy most days at peace without being disturbed by the paranoia of constantly looking over their shoulders. People in the city are not afraid to run to the police precinct to ask for help, in fact, they are confident that the police will respond accordingly and swiftly as hoped because that is the norm. The police and Task Force Davao wear their uniforms with pride because of this kind of trust that the people have on them. The residents are more at ease to use their gadgets in public places because snatchers rarely prowl the streets now. I am citing these not to say that the city is perfect. It is not. And like all families, there is still that rotten lot but the good news is, everyone else tries to save them. If they are beyond saving then there really is no point to delay the process.

Commemorative_Monument_of_Peace_&_Unity Photo credit: Bernard Ilarde

Those who intend to do harm in the city have been explicitly warned by Mayor Duterte several times. They have been told to stay away or if they are in the city, leave the city if they do not have anything good to offer, yet they still pushed on. Who in their right minds would still take the risk despite knowing the consequences? Was it because of the possibility of escape? Or was it because they are so used to the kind of tolerance that the supposed-justice system has promulgated for years? Or was it simply out of desperation? Whatever their reason was, they knew what they were getting themselves into. Yes, we can go on and out-argue each other about their rights but I believe that they gave up those rights the moment they placed people in danger. I believe in justice and I agree that justice is a two-way process; but remember that the process does not just start after the crime or after someone dies. Justice starts the moment that plans were concocted, hence, intentions are also weighed alongside results. You can’t just look at a crime based on its aftermath. You can’t just disregard the variables involved before the crime happened. Most importantly, you can’t just put the kidnappers’ rights ahead of the victim’s just because they ended up getting themselves killed in the situation which they have masterminded themselves.

RODY2Photo credit: Bryan Uy

People speak of the rights of the three kidnappers who died but what of the victim? or the other victims, because I’m quite certain there were others and there will be others if they are not stopped. Let me ask you now, have you been a victim? If not, have you at least talked to one? or seen one perhaps? These questions should give you an idea. Some people don’t know how it feels like to live in fear after you have been subjected to a traumatic situation. Every roar of the motor will remind you of the escape vehicle your transgressors used, your heart plummets to zero every time you closed your eyes, you develop the habit of repeatedly checking your locks every 5 minutes just to make sure if they were indeed locked, your eyes will never be steady again and they dart here and there because you discovered that you cannot trust anybody, you recount the events and agonize over what you could and should have done, you become angry, even hateful, because you lost something (something important, money maybe, time, or worst – life) that often cannot be replaced while others sleep like infants because they remain untouched. These others are more forgiving because they do not understand. These others do not acknowledge the fact that victims can become criminals too if they do not receive their take on justice. It’s a circle. If you don’t put an end somewhere, it will go on and on and on. These others are deaf and blind to the fact that most criminals do not stop unless they are taught a lesson.

Sure there are other ways but for now, while this one works, it is best to make the most of it.

We cannot measure how far the ripples of our actions will take us but I do know that we all have to be responsible for everything that we do. Plans happen before action and if you made a choice to act on something, you already know what will be in store for you; hence you brace yourself for the consequences. If it went your way, then congratulations. If it didn’t, then suck it up. I believe that the kidnappers did just that, therefore, I see no need to feel sorry for them.

What is happening in Davao is not tyranny. Dabaweños do not fear Mayor Duterte, we respect him. There’s a big difference. We have seen what his leadership has done for the city. We have reveled in the city’s progress. And because we respect him, we help in any way we can and support other programs that seemed to be not making the headlines. Mayor Duterte is not just ‘The Punisher’ as how he was nicknamed by Time magazine; (However, it is true that security and civil defense are his utmost priorities and proofs of this are the millions of pesos the city government invests for protecting the city from terrorist attacks and other crimes, as well as, enforcing city ordinances such curfews for minors, liquor ban at 2:00am, checkpoints, amongst others.) but he is also The Equalizer who set a precedent by designating deputy mayors who represented the minorities, the Lumad and Moro, in the city government. It was also because of his office’s initiative that Davao City was praised by the World Health Organization for its smoke-free policy (yes, including fireworks and smoking). I can narrate more but that’s not the point of my article.

DavaoThe point is, there are some things we cannot control but for the remaining some that we can, we correct it so that people can actually sleep without the nightmares. If one must be ruthless to keep the innocent safe then so be it. And no, I don’t think that the Dabaweños are dictated to go left or right. I don’t think we are treated like mindless buffoons by our city officials as how other people would phrase it. (Okay, it wasn’t phrased as blatantly as how I wrote it but the suggestion inclined in a similar manner). I, for instance, do not fight them because the cause they are bulwarking is the same as mine. I comply because I (too) see the big picture and I want to achieve it. I also want peace. I also want to be free from any harm. I also want to share this with other people.

Lastly, like you, I am also not happy with the deaths.

No one is. So stop parading your human rights banner like as if no one cared. We cared, some people just don’t listen.

Like This Blog's Posts? Get the latest updates straight to your Email for FREE!
Please check your email to confirm your subscription


  1. Cecille Malaluan says

    Mabuhay ka! couldn’t have said it better. Would have included the bombing at the airport and Sasa pier which almost sentenced our tourism industry to death but your article’s great!

    • Hi cecil! thank you for reading the article. Yeah, I should have mentioned those bombings too! i’ll try to tweak the article to include those….thanks for suggesting.:)

  2. Well said Den , galing naman, parang I have something to do na these days while Im running out of paints and canvass, books to read and movies to watch – reading Tutu on the Run whooops . . . so be ready with my comments . Hugs and mwah

    • hey ate totz…thanks for taking the time to read my articles…comment away lang, i’d be happy to hear some of your critique….if it will help me improve my writing, why not diba? thanks again and happy reading!