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Rights chief slams Mindanao's 'Dirty Harry'

Vice-mayor calls for decapitated head of alleged car thief

Duterte has been linked to extrajudicial killings. Picture: Keith Kristoffer Bacongo/Wikimedia Commons Duterte has been linked to extrajudicial killings. Picture: Keith Kristoffer Bacongo/Wikimedia Commons
  • Kerima Bulan T. Navales, Davao City
  • Philippines
  • October 29, 2012
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A war of words has broken out between the chief of the nation's human rights body and the controversial vice-mayor of a southern city after the local official called for a suspected car thief’s decapitated head to be brought before him.

Loretta Ann Rosales, chairman of the Commission on Human Rights, said the call issued by Rodrigo Duterte in Davao City "belongs in the Middle Ages."

Duterte is popularly known in the Philippines as Mindanao's "Dirty Harry," after the no-nonsense San Francisco detective played by Clint Eastwood in a series of movies.

In 2002, Time magazine called Duterte "The Punisher" for threatening criminals in the city.

Last week, he offered P4 million ($96,800) for the head of Ryan Yu, the alleged leader of a notorious carjacking gang. He later offered an extra P1 million if someone brought him Yu’s head.

"If you can bring to me the head of Ryan Yu, just make sure to put ice on it so it will not smell. I am willing to give P5 million," Duterte said.

In her angry response, Rosales said dangling money for the arrest of a suspect — dead or alive — exposes a suspect to human rights violations.

"The public will be motivated by money. They will no longer give value to his basic rights — to right to life. What they will give more importance to now is money,” Rosales said.

"No matter how notorious a person is, he has to have his day in court. That is democracy. That is part of the rule of law," she said on Friday, accusing Duterte of advocating extrajudicial killings.

Duterte fired back yesterday by accusing Rosales of trying to make local law enforcers "impotent against criminals."

City authorities, however, said the reward for Yu serves as a warning against those who are planning illegal activities in the city.

Rosales also called for the Interior Secretary, Mar Roxas, to investigate Duterte’s suspected links to an alleged death squad thought to be responsible for as many as 200 extrajudicial killings in the city, while he was mayor between 2004 and 2009.

The rights comission has conducted an investigation into the killings but nobody has been prosecuted and Duterte denies any involvement.

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