Re­pent, re­sign or die. Which mayor would?

Sun.Star Pampanga - - OPINOIOPNINION -

EETING with may­ors from Visayas

Wed­nes­day, Pres­i­dent Duterte was in a foul mood, news re­ports said.

Not sur­pris­ing as there are still may­ors in his “narco-list” whom po­lice have to ar­rest and charge.

Noth­ing riles up Duterte more than those who are into drugs such as mer­chants, cod­dlers and users and those who crit­i­cize the killings in his “drug war.” Duterte “cursed” and “threat­ened” the may­ors although it’s not known who winced. In­ti­mate meet­ing Was it an “in­ti­mate” meet­ing, as Press Sec­re­tary Martin An­dana de­scribed it? De­pends on whether one’s sense of in­ti­macy in­cludes rough ver­bal stuff. It was pri­vate (closed-door) and per­sonal (lifethreat­en­ing, so to speak).

The op­tions for a mayor who’s into drugs are all un­palat­able. Re­pent and re­sign? Re­pent maybe but in pri­vate. Pub­lic re­morse would open him to pros­e­cu­tion and end his po­lit­i­cal ca­reer. Be­ing killed is worse but it’s a risk a shrewd mayor might pre­fer, know­ing they couldn’t nail him down by ev­i­dence.

He has seen many drug sus­pects who were threat­ened but are still alive and aren’t even ar­rested or charged for lack of ev­i­dence. Many were pub­licly shamed by Duterte, in­clud­ing Cebu town mayor and former po­lice gen­eral Vic Loot, and yet are still stand­ing, no strand of hair touched. A mayor from Leyte was ex­e­cuted in his jail cell not be­cause he was a drug cod­dler but po­lice whose ca­reers were en­dan­gered had to si­lence him.

Threat of death could be less in­tim­i­dat­ing than pub­lic ac­cep­tance of a crime. A town mayor com­pelled to re­pent and re­sign wouldn’t be un­like a thief forced to march in the pub­lic plaza with an “I am a thief” card­board on his neck. “I will kill you” And “I will kill you” re­peat­edly said could soon lose its strength to strike fear in the heart, even if it comes from the most pow­er­ful pub­lic of­fi­cial in the coun­try. An ex­ple­tive fre­quently ex­pelled might shed off its venom and sting.

A mayor who prof­ited from the drug trade would pre­fer tak­ing his chance in sur­viv­ing a kill threat to pub­lic hu­mil­i­a­tion in own­ing up a crime.

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