Ex-CHR chair warns vs Duterte presidency

Christian V. Esguerra, ABS-CBN News

Former Commission on Human Rights (CHR) chairperson Loretta Ann Rosales acknowledged presidential aspirant Rodrigo Duterte's "political will" and "resolve" as a longtime mayor of Davao City.

And these attributes apparently explain why Duterte has a strong following, especially among voters hoping for a government that would really go hard on criminality.

But at what cost is another story.

Rosales warned that Duterte, dubbed “The Punisher,” might have the makings of a dictator, considering his alleged vigilante-style approach against suspected criminals in his city.

“He hates criminals. Suspected criminals have no space for him. He guns them down if he feels like it,” she told ABS-CBN News.

“The moment you take the law in your hands and you think you can get away with it, then you become part of the problem, and that has been the way of all authoritarian rulers.”

READ: 6 things to know about Rodrigo Duterte

Duterte, 70, has stopped playing coy and finally announced that he's running for president next year. Unlike other presidential hopefuls, he claims to be a reluctant candidate.

But his campaign against criminality has unsettled the likes of Rosales and other human rights activists.

In previous interviews, Duterte had made no qualms about killing people in the name of peace and order, a tough-guy image his supporters hope he would also bring to the presidency.

But Rosales said these people should be careful with what they wish for.

“These people who say we need a Duterte, they don’t think of the law. They don’t realize that if you don’t respect the law, it would affect also you and your family,” she said.

“As mayor, I don’t understand it, but he felt that he had the authority to gloss over the rule of law, to gloss over due process, and to let people know that he could get away with murder, and that’s what makes it dangerous.”

Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, president of Duterte’s PDP-Laban party, said he would “make sure that he doesn’t close over the law.”

“In the Duterte administration, I will be the constant reminder to respect the Constitution, human rights, Bill of Rights,” Pimentel said in a text message.

What also worries Rosales is that while Duterte “knows the difference between right and wrong” and also “knows how to avoid prosecution.”

To his critics, Duterte’s alleged human right violations are ironic. Because at one time, he was a human rights lawyer.

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