Duterte backs mayor who parades crime suspects

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

DAVAO CITY - A mayor in Batangas who has come under fire for ordering suspected criminals to take "walks of shame" has found an ally in presumptive president Rodrigo Duterte.

The Commission on Human Rights earlier said Tanauan Mayor Anthony Halili may have violated the rights of several suspects when he paraded them while bearing signs stating their supposed crimes.

READ: 11 drug suspects take walk of shame in Batangas

This composite image shows a Facebook photo of Tanauan, Batangas Mayor Anthony Halili and a photo of presumptive President Rodrigo Duterte. ABS-CBN News

Duterte, a lawyer, said he is aware that suspects should not be punished without due course. He said that he had never humiliated his constituents in public during his 22 years as mayor of Davao City.

However, Duterte said he will not interfere with how Halili handles his turf. "I will not even comment on it," he said.

Instead, the incoming President will offer legal advice and assign a lawyer to Halili should he need it.

Duterte also promised to support the mayor's initiatives to curb the illegal drug trade in Tanauan.

"Kung ginawa niya, okay lang and I will support him. I'll give him legal advice, a lawyer. Kasi ako, galit din talaga ako sa droga -- baka hindi na kita i-parade, i-diretso na lang kita," he said.

WHEN PARENTS WANT THEIR KIDS DEAD

For his part, Halili reiterated that the shame campaign is effective in curbing criminality.

He noted Tanauan was dubbed the "crime capital" of Calabarzon because of the drug trade before he became mayor.

"Nakita ko kung gaano katalamak ang bentahan ng drugs sa Tanauan bago ako naging mayor. Mismong sa barangay ko ang sentro ng distribution. Kitang-kita ko ang ebidensya kung paanong ang mga tao ay walang katakot-takot na nagbebenta ng drugs, parang nagbebenta ng asin," he said.

When he was first elected, Halili said he immediately waged war on narcotics by weeding out scalawag lawmen and targeting the operations of big drug groups.

The walk of shame, he said, caused drug pushers to avoid his city.

Halili, a self-confessed fan of Duterte, is bent on continuing the public shaming despite protests from the CHR.

"Noon ko pa sinasabi na okay lang mag-complain sila. Gawin nila iyung trabaho nila at gagawin ko iyung trabaho ko. Alam ko naman talaga na ayaw nila ng ganito, pero gusto kong maiayos ang bayan ko," he said.

He said that before he orders drug pushers to take the "walk of shame", he writes them letters and invites them to his office to talk about stopping the illegal acts.

"Pinapadalhan ko ng sulat yung mga alam naming na-involved sa illegal drugs. Inaanyayahan ko sa opisina ko at kinakausap ko. Pinapakiusapan ko, pinapaliwanagan ko na tumigil na sila. Marami namang tumitigil," he said.

He denied that the suspects who take the "walk" are innocent, saying that many drug addicts and pushers are liars.

Drug addiction, he said, also leads to other crimes including murder, rape and thievery.

"Dito sa Tanauan, yung ama nire-rape yung dalawang anak. Yung isang addict dito, nire-rape mga kapatid niya. Ganun. May mga nananakit mismo ng sariling ina. Kaya umabot ng sukdulan ang aking galit sa drugs nung may mga mismong mga magulang na lumalapit sa akin na kung pwede patayin na yung kanilang mga anak dahil kung hindi daw mapapatay ang kanilang anak ay sila ang papatayin," he said.

SHAMED STRAIGHT

For her part, former CHR chairperson Loretta Rosales said the walk of shame is only a temporary fix to the problem of illegal drugs.

She said drug peddlers who supposedly avoid Tanauan do not really mend their ways but merely go to other cities.

Rosales said the narcotics trade can only be curbed through a holistic approach where other institutions like the school and family educate the public on the dangers of drugs.

"Ang mahalaga diyan, bigyan mo ng kapangyarihan iyung ating mamamayan, bigyan mo sila ng armas. Ang armas nila ay iyung kaalaman tungkol sa kanilang mga karapatan at responsibilidad. Dapat katulong ang mga mamamayan sa pag-alis ng droga, pag-eradicate ng crime," she said.

READ: CHR probes 'walk of shame' in Tanauan