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Robredo: no shortcut to punish Duterte

Local government code requires a complainant
Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo
Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo

MANILA Philippines (July 16, 2011) - While there is basis for filing an administrative case against Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) cannot impose sanction on the mayor because a formal complaint that the DILG or the Office of President can act on is non-existent as yet.

This defines the elbow room available for Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo pertaining to the incident where an angry Mayor Duterte threw multiple punches at a sheriff who was carrying out a court-ordered demolition of shanties occupied by informal settlers in Agdao, Davao City.

"The Local Government Code requires that a formal complaint against an elected official be lodged with us or the Office of the President then the accused is accorded due process and after that disciplinary action is imposed if merited," said Robredo in an FB message to Vox Bikol.

Robredo acknowledges that there is basis for administrative case against Duterte, but in the absence of a formal complaint against the mayor the agency's hands are tied.

The lady mayor reportedly lost her cool because Sheriff Abe Andres did not grant her request to stay the demolition for at least two hours within which she claimed she could talk to agitated dwellers and avoid a possible bloody riot.

The punching incident was caught on television camera and drew adverse reactions worldwide when footages widely circulated in the Internet and the news got carried by national and international media.

In the aftermath of the incident, Sheriff Andres upset followers of the case when he not only refused to file a complaint against Duterte but also apologized to the mayor for failing to grant her request.

Many however understand that Andres is too scared to stand up against the Dutertes who are perceived to be so powerful in Davao City they are thought to have things their way with impunity.

In an earlier comment on the case, Robredo emphasized that the DILG by virtue of its mandate is the investigating body in the Duterte case and another person or group has to step up as the complainant. It is just not right that the DILG becomes the complainant and investigator at the same time, Robredo explained.

At present the legal team and think-tank of the DILG have to wrack their brains figuring out the course of action to take and the tenor of their final recommendation to the President, taking into consideration that sans a complainant Duterte might still be at fault.

Robredo laments that while angry crowds demanding justice for Sheriff Andres have rallied in front of the DILG office, not one individual or group has volunteered to be the complainant in the case.

When Robredo announced yesterday that the DILG shall not recommend punishment for Duterte, he knew he has to contend with an skeptical public that is crying for blood.

Asked what recourse a complainant has if the offending party is a fearful figure, Robredo said they hope to cover that scenario in the recommendations the DILG is working on.

He said their recommendations shall be submitted to the President on Monday or Tuesday this coming week.