Duterte to vice mayors: Kidnap, hex your mayors
President Duterte grants a selfie opportunity to his supporters on the sidelines of the 29th Annual National Convention of the Vice Mayors’ League of the Philippines held at The Bellevue Pavilion on Panglao Island, Bohol the other day.
Duterte to vice mayors: Kidnap, hex your mayors
Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - June 30, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Saying he can think and act like a gangster, President Duterte egged on vice mayors, by way of a joke, to replace their non-performing mayors in the localities by kidnapping or hexing them.

“Kung gangster kayo, mas gangster ako (If you’re a gangster, I am more of a gangster),” he said during the 29th Annual National Convention of the Vice Mayors’ League of the Philippines last Thursday in Panglao, Bohol.

The President made the call at The Bellevue Pavilion as he illustrated how deeply patronage politics and political dynasties prevail in the country.         

Then Duterte delivered his punch line: “The earlier you do away with your mayor, the earlier you become the mayor.”

The joke drew laughter from the local executives, and Duterte went on to recommend, albeit in jest, that they kidnap their mayors, particularly those who are members of political dynasties.

“Kidnap them, to avoid any leak, just do it yourself. And tell (your mayor), ‘mayor, I will kill you and nobody paid me. Duterte directed me if I want so that you finish yourself earlier,” he said.

Vice mayors could also hex local chief executives to weaken them, added Duterte.

Duterte discussed how a member of a political dynasty in the provinces limits the opportunities for those who are next in line.

“Then, your wife is next in line, after her, you will let your son run for the local post. How about me? Will I just be vice-mayor for a long time?” said Duterte, who once served as Davao vice-mayor when his daughter, now incumbent Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, was the top local chief executive.

At one point, Duterte gave credit to his criminal law professor, Victor dela Cerna, who taught him well.

“Now, I have a criminal mind,” he said jokingly.

Duterte also defended his bloody drug war that led to the brutal deaths of businessman Melvin Odicta Sr. and his wife, Meriam, in August 2016 at the Caticlan port; Albuera mayor Rolando Espinosa on Nov. 5, 2016; Ozamiz City mayor Reynaldo Parojinog and his wife and their suspected henchmen on July 30, 2017. All were in his drug watch list.

Duterte, who has stretched the limits of the patience of human rights activists and the Catholic clergy, underscored the importance of local government units (LGUs) in bringing the government closer to the people.

“Indeed, I cannot over-emphasize that you play a pivotal role in the administration’s thrust to rid the society of these ills that have made our people suffer and have impeded our country’s development for so long,” he said.

Reading excerpts from a prepared speech, Duterte called for a stronger partnership between the administration and local executives. 

“As part of LGUs you are one of our frontliners in bringing the government closer to the people. May you continue to be a partner in helping us attain peace, progress and prosperity for our communities and our country,” he added.

Peace and order function

At the same event, Duterte said he is ready to revoke the powers of the mayors to address peace and order.

Duterte expects local police chiefs to take the lead in the enforcement of law and order in the provinces in a bid to address the worsening crime situation nationwide.

He repeated his directive to Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año to file charges for serious neglect of duty against mayors who are remiss in their functions.

“Kaya kung mayor ka, you are the president of your municipality. My God, how come ang tataas ng crime rates ninyo? (If you are mayor, you are the president of your municipality. My God, how come crime rates are high in your localities)?” he said.

Duterte is displeased that mayors appear helpless amid crimes in their localities.

“I told Año to charge mayors who are unable to control crime,” he said.

“Tatanggalin mo ‘yang pulis niya. Ilagay ko ‘yung pulis ko. Ikaw na ‘yung mayor (You can remove his control over the police force. I will bring in my police. You become the mayor),” Duterte said.

“Insofar as law and order, you are the mayor. Ignore the mayor. I will have them removed, and I will file a case against you. Serious neglect of duty or simple neglect, or gross ignorance of the law or oppression, or simply doing nothing,” he said.

“If you are not doing anything, I will file charges against you and I will direct Año to dismiss you. You recommend for the dismissal and I will sign it,” Duterte said.

As this developed, PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said they are ready to take over peace and order functions from LGU officials found to be non-performing in their jobs.

Albayalde issued the statement after President Duterte’s warning.

“Yes, of course,” he told reporters when asked if they can assume that responsibility.

In an ambush interview at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City, Albayalde said elected officials should be the ones leading the campaign to ensure peace and order in their respective communities.

“If you are the local chief executive, you have the responsibility for peace and order, that’s why you have operation control over the police,” he said.

“You can’t just give all the responsibilities to the police because you are the father of your place and elected by the people,” added Albayalde.

Albayalde said there are also some local officials who would take donations to the police such as vehicles and even withhold funds for gasoline if they are in conflict with the police chief.

“If we really want peace and order in our area of responsibility, we need to support our police force,” he said.

Livelihood replacement for ‘jueteng’

Meanwhile, President Duterte said he must be prepared to provide livelihood for people who would be displaced should government launch anew its crackdown on the illegal jueteng numbers game.

“If I stop (jueteng), I must be prepared to give another livelihood scheme to the people. Once it’s gone, (if) you don’t have a replacement... it will be replaced by drugs. It’s more deadly,” the President yesterday told reporters.  

“I am worried about the (network) of jueteng lords,” he said, adding that while he is aware that jueteng is illegal, he knows of the risks involved if people who benefit from it were to seek other means of livelihood.

“Its networking is more extensive. Intensive and extensive. It will be replaced by drug lords. They will ride on the mechanism itself. I should be prepared to provide a substitute,” he added. 

Although Duterte added that he would act on the illegal numbers game, he did not elaborate.

“Between drugs and itong sugal (this numbers game), hindi naman talaga nahinto na maski sinong administration (it can not be stopped by any administration). I’m not saying I won’t take any action, I will. But I am aware of the danger of what will develop after you stop jueteng,” he said. – With Emmanuel Tupas, Alexis Romero

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