It’s was all over the news and social networking sites, the video of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte who punched Davao Regional Trial Court sheriff Abe Andres, when tempers flared during the a demolition operation in Sitio Soliman, Barangay Agdao.
Duterte requested for a reprieve so that she can talk to her constituents, aiming to de-escalate the tensions and ensure order during the operations.
When her request seems to have been denied by sheriff Andres, who is duty bound to implement a lawful court order, the Mayor delivered four punches to the former much to the cheering of her constituents.
For the families who are about to lose their homes because of the demolition operation, Mayor Duterte became an instant hero, taking up their cause and saving the day for the urban poor.
I asked myself as I watched the video footage on YouTube, “Is it an election year?” Local officials rarely take the side of the urban poor during demolition operations. Most of the time, they are also had a hand in giving the demolition team the go signal to go in and tear down the shanties of urban poor dwellers.
So when local officials break the norm, it’s usually to gain brownie points from their constituents and media exposure.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not parroting the “elitist view” that we should strictly implement laws against “illegal squatters.”
I actually want to know whether or not Mayor Duterte has exerted any effort to have assisted the landless poor in Sitio Soliman even before the Trial Court issued a demolition order, which is the last thing that happens in these cases.
What was Duterte, in her capacity as Mayor, doing all this time until she had to intervene and all of a sudden play the role of hero to the poor?
Why become the hero on the 11th hour when there’s really nothing much she could do in the face of a lawful order from a court even if she a local chief executive?
Duterte intervened to avoid violence, but she failed miserably when she herself became violent.
Had Duterte been sincere enough in helping her landless constituents, she could have done something something long before the court order to proceed with the demolition came out.
The same goes to the Aquino administration who has been silent in the face of past demolition operations in Metro Manila that have become violent.
It’s true that the rule of law must be obeyed, but when you leave a man or woman in tight corner, you’re crazy to believe that things will not get ugly. Put an entire community on the verge of being completely homeless with no other recourse, then you’d be crazy to believe things will not break down into anarchy.