MANILA, Philippines (1st UPDATE) - Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte can be either suspended or dismissed from public service for punching a court sheriff during a demolition of informal settlers' shanties in the city Friday, Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo said.
Robredo told ANC's On The Scene that the penalty can range from a simple reprimand to dismissal from service.
He said the sanction will depend on the findings of a team that will investigate the incident.
"We will conduct an investigation immediately. A legal services team will go to Davao on Monday," he added.
He said the investigation will follow "normal process," wherein someone must first file a formal complaint with Malacañang.
He said a fact-finding team from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) will then submit its recommendations to President Benigno Aquino III.
"We have some initial information on why and how it happened," Robredo said.
However, he added that the DILG needs to get the side of both Duterte and court sheriff Abe Andres, as well as witnesses to the incident.
Robredo, in a separate interview with dzMM's Pasada Sais Trenta, said Duterte was distributing relief goods to flood-hit residents of the city when she heard word about the demolition of the shanties of some 500 families in Barangay Kapitan Tomas Monteverde Sr. Suliman, Agdao.
He said that based on an initial report he received, the mayor asked the demolition team for a 2-hour reprieve to prevent violence from erupting in the area.
Robredo said Duterte's request was reasonable and the sheriff should have given in to her request.
He said he was a mayor for 19 years and also requested demolition teams in his jurisdiction to suspend the removal of shanties.
"(Immediately implementing the demolition order is) not a matter of life and death, unawain natin," Robredo said
However, he said Duterte lost her temper instead of resolving the row in another way.
"Kailangan mas mahaba ang aming pasensiya," he said.
Robredo, however, expressed surprise over a report that Duterte also asked the demolition team to kneel in front of her.
"Kung totoo iyon, may abuse iyon. Ang nakita ko lang kasi, parang sinuntok iyung sheriff," he said.
The DILG chief said it could aggravate Duterte's case.
"Kailangan po makuha namin kabuuan ng kuwento," Robredo said. "Kapag footage lang po kinuha mo, (kulang) ang kuwento."
He said complaints can also be filed against Duterte before the courts or the Office of the Ombudsman.
Caught on camera
Duterte was caught on camera punching the Davao Regional Trial Court Branch 15 sheriff, who was serving a demolition order on Friday.
She said sheriff Andres ignored her request for suspension of the demolition, causing tension to break out in the area.
Footage taken by ABS-CBN Davao showed Duterte gesturing to Andres to come closer before punching him repeatedly in the face.
Two men were also seen holding on to Andres while Duterte held on to his collar and talked to him.
In an interview, Andres said Duterte's attack left him with contusions above his eye.
He added that a lawyer approached him at the hospital and said the mayor was offering her apology.
Andres said he will report the matter to his superiors as well as the Sheriffs Confederation of the Philippines before taking any action.
Duterte, meanwhile, denied "beating up" Andres.
"I did not beat him up...I am prepared to stand by what I am saying, that I am asking him for humanitarian reason to wait for me since we were already planning for this so that no riot will happen and the demolition will be executed peacefully," she told ANC.