Senate Hearing Duterte
DUTERTE AT SENATE HEARING. Photo shows Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte testifying during a recent Senate hearing on rice smuggling. He pointed to businessman David Tan, also known as Davidson Bangayan, as a big-time rice smuggler. The mayor threatened to kill Tan, who also attended the Senate hearing, if he catches him unloading smuggled rice in Davao City.

MANILA – Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s statement that he would gladly kill rice smugglers in his city should be taken more as tough talk rather than a serious threat, Senate President Franklin Drilon said.

Drilon said Duterte’s words, which instantly became a hit on social media, can be attributed to the local chief executive’s signature bravado against criminals, in this case, rice smugglers.

“We should take it as bravado rather than a serious threat na pag ginawa mo yun, papatayin kita (We should take it as bravado rather than a serious threat that if you do that, I will kill you),” Drilon said in a radio interview.

During the smuggling probe conducted recently by the Senate committee on agriculture, the Davao City mayor told the panel that he would “gladly kill” Davidson Bangayan if he catches him smuggling rice in his city.

Bangayan, who sat just a few feet away from Duterte during the Senate inquiry, was identified by the latter as the “David Tan,” a big-time rice smuggler.

But the Senate President said Duterte, 68, was just using “colorful language” to describe his strong antipathy toward criminal activity especially when Davao is involved.

Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile said that Duterte just expressed his sentiments against situations prevailing in his community and that he has the right to speak out.

Enrile, the defense minister during the Marcos regime, said Duterte uses colorful language although it is known that it is not to anyone’s good health when he gets riled up.

Duterte has so far not committed any crime following his threat to Bangayan but appropriate criminal charges would be in order if he makes good of his threat, he said.

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Senator Cynthia Villar also took Duterte’s tough talk lightly, saying she is used to the city mayor’s tough language whenever he is a foul mood.

But Senator Grace Poe expressed alarm over Duterte’s threat, saying minors who viewed the Senate committee hearing would think that it is alright to threaten and kill a person.

Poe is the chairperson of the Senate public order and dangerous drugs committee and Senate pubic information and mass media.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chairperson Etta Rosales condemned Duterte’s threat and reminded him of the primacy of the rule of law and respect for human rights. (Manila Bulletin)