Mayor Sara Duterte

CHICAGO – Mayor Sara Duterte of Davao City, reputed as one of the largest cities in the Philippines, had just shrunk her city into the smallest, if not the meanest. Thanks to the iron fist of the woman mayor, who turned the face of the Davao sheriff into her punching bag.

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. — Romans 13:1-3

After watching the television footage in GMANews TV of the stunning incident, one can easily tell who is at fault: Your Honor, the Mayor, just lost her wits and cool.

Not only does Mayor Duterte need to take a leave of absence, but she also needs to take a course on anger management . And take her father, the acting mayor, who is her role model, along with her. I’m sure she takes after the gentlemanly challenged persona of her father as chip off the old block.

And her bodyguards should be trained on how to prevent or break up a fight. Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo should make sure that the Duterte father-and-daughter and bodyguards demonstrate first that they pass public-decorum test before they are reinstated.

On the mayor’s claim that Sheriff Abe Andres should also be blamed for not heeding her request to delay the demolition by two hours, she is also right. Because if her plea to delay the demolition that took place at 10 a.m., I don’t see anything wrong with delaying the enforcement of the court order by two hours at noon. After all, noon is still part of the same day within which to execute the order and, therefore, Andres cannot be cited in contempt of court for withholding the demolition order.

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When Mayor Sara beckoned Andres to come closer to her, Andres did not show any sign of resistance that could have provoked the mayor into raining her fist on him. She could have asked him first if he could delay the demolition by two hours. If he had resisted, she and her bodyguards could have pulled back and lodged a protest against Andres with the court.

Sara should remember that she cannot fight fire with fire. She can use only water to douse the fire. If she insists on using an iron hand, she should remember that a mistake (the stubbornness of the sheriff) cannot be corrected by committing another mistake (punching the sheriff).

We are supposed to be under a government of laws, not of men. What Sara did was to turn back the hands of time to the Law of the Jungle, where might was right. This kind of law has no place in modern society.

Sara’s father, a lawyer like her, cannot fault the sheriff for following the law because Sara was not aware at the time of the confrontation that the demolition should have been implemented after a 30-day cooling-off period. This is called delayed reaction or an afterthought. Maybe it was ignorance of law for both Sarah, the lawyer, and Andres, the sheriff. Maybe Sara can invoke this point of law next time if there is a similar confrontation.

I don’t care if Sarah does not apologize for as long she does not commit the same mistake of punching her fellow government employee again. If Sarah pulls the same stunt, she should be dealt with the maximum penalty imposed by law to deter her from repeating the same rude act.

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What Sara did was against the civil service policy enunciated by the Philippine Constitution. This policy calls for public officials to “adopt measures to promote morale, efficiency, integrity, responsiveness, progressiveness and courtesy in the civil service.”

She did not observe the principle that it is always better for public administrators to criticize fellow administrators in private and promote or phrase their fellows in public. For sheriffs, it would not hurt if they undergo training for self-defense so that if the they run into a similar trouble in the future, they can protect themselves.

Sheriffs can always file the next day a complaint against the likes of Sara and, at the same time, avoid being accused of dereliction of duties.