MANILA - Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista could face charges for slapping a drug suspect who was caught red-handed with P15 million worth of shabu during a buy-bust operation last Friday.
Bautista has apologized to the public for the incident, saying that he reacted on impulse when the suspect, identified as Zhen Xu, became disrespectful.
"Bawal talaga ang pikon kaya I apologized to the public especially the youth. Leaders should not act that way," he said in an ANC interview.
The mayor, however, said he will not apologize to the suspect.
He said he is prepared to face any investigation on the incident.
"Hindi nya rin nirerespeto ang batas natin. Hindi ko napigilan yung sarili ko. Nag-apologize ako kasi hindi naman magandang halimbawa rin sa kabataan yung ginawa ko," he said.
Commission on Human Rights chairwoman Etta Rosales, however, is not pleased with Bautista's behavior.
Speaking to [email protected], Rosales said Bautista's act was clearly physical abuse and a violation of the human rights of the drug suspect.
"Even with the Revised Penal Code, that's maltreatment. Even without physical injuries. I think when Mayor Herbert was trying to explain what the whole thing was all about, that it was impulse, na nababastusan siya because the Chinese suspect did not cooperate, pretended he could not understand, perhaps he couldn't understand the mayor. We don't know. He was probably exercising his right to remain silent. That is the Miranda doctrine," she said.
She said the CHR can pursue a case against the Quezon City mayor if the suspect requests for it.
"If the Chinese national files a complaint, then we will open it for investigation," she said.
"If [the suspect] is ludicrous, if he behaves stupidly or sabihin mo babastos-bastos siya...You are a public official. You maintain your dignity. But you dont' fall into the trap. Di mo papatulan, Sa tingin ko dapat ganun. Inamin din naman niya. Tao lang siya pero bawal ang pikon e," she said.
Rosales said the more important matter is monitoring the case of the drug bust since it involves P15 million of shabu.
"If we are talking about P15 million worth of shabu, that to me must be monitored by the CHR so that investigation must be thorough. There must not be intervention whatsoever. Ang bayaran at whoever the culprit is - there should be prosecution. There should not be unholy alliances between the prosecution and the judges. It is put on trial. There should be conviction and penalty. There should be no intervention of pay-offs and so on," she said.
Rosales also praised Bautista for admitting he was wrong.
"The fact he apologized is better than some mayors," she said.
CHR: NO TO DEATH PENALTY
Meanwhile, Bautista's actions drew support from Davao City Rodrigo Duterte.
The tough-talking Duterte said Bautista was too easy on the drug suspect, saying that he would have dumped the drug suspect in the Davao Gulf.
"Kulang pa yon. Dapat sinipa ko. Sa Davao City, ikarga ko siya ng barko, baroto tapos ihulog ko siya Davao Gulf. Ang isda dyan ngayon wala nang pagkain e," he said in an interview.
Rosales said she is interested in monitoring the drug case since it touches on the pillars of the country's justice system.
The CHR chairwoman also nixed Bautista's call to restore the death penalty for crimes related to illegal drugs. She said authorities should get their acts together in fighting illegal drugs.
"The trend right now internationally is abolition of the death penalty, restorative justice and improve on the congestion and criminal justice system," she said.