Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Dumaguete City, the Philippine's newest vigilante capital

Welcome to Dumaguete City, the country's newest capital for vigilante killings.
What used to be a city known for the gentleness of the breeze, and the general demeanor of its residents, is now fast making a mark as the country's next vigilante capital.
Dumaguete City, the capital of Negros Oriental in Central Visayas is the place where I grew up.
It used to be known as a "university town" mainly due to the number of universities and colleges that host thousands of students coming from different places in the Visayas and Mindanao.
There is the more than a hundred year old Silliman University, founded by American missionaries who aspired to spread Christian doctrines of love and peace.
Roman Catholic schools also abound in Dumaguete City like Saint Paul College which is also more than a hundred years old, Dumaguete Cathedral College, Don Bosco and others.
A privately owned school, Foundation University and a state-owned university, the Negros Oriental State University add to the bustling academic environment.
But lately, Dumaguete has lost its tag as a "university town."
It is fast becoming the newest capital for "vigilantism", succeeding the crown then worn by Davao City, and not too long ago, neighboring Cebu City.
Extrajudicial killings now pervade in the city.
There are the vigilantes freely roaming the streets of Dumaguete, and engaging on a killing spree of alleged "menaces" of society, principally the so-called peddlers of illegal drugs.
They call themselves the Equalizers. But as to what exactly they are trying to equalize, nobody knows, and the members do not care to explain.
They decide who are to be exterminated. They act as prosectuor, judge and executioner.
And just like Santa Claus at Christmas time, they're making a list, checking it twice, finding out whose naughty or nice.
But what can be gathered is that those who are killed extrajudicially, supposedly known in the city's drug underworld, are residents of the city's slum areas and not those from posh subdivisions and villages.
In short, the supposedly evil men who are exterminated like pests and condemned as such without the benefit of a trial are not the rich but are---you guessed it--- the poor again.
Apparently, killing the presumably evil men who are poor, andnot the presumably evil men who are rich, is their way to bring equality in society.
According to local news reports, their modus operandi is to straff and riddle their cased targets with bullets leading to their instant deaths, and the 'Equalizers' scamper, riding and then disappearing on motor bikes. These perpetrators usually wear bonnets to prevent people from identifying them.
They have become so bold that they have threatened to wipe out drug criminals in the city.
Amazingly, not a few residents from this supposedly highly educated and civilized community don't seem to bother.
Some even, are giving their stamp of approval. The local officialdom are seen to be projecting a hear-no-evil-see-no-evil attitude.
The attitude in the air seems to be "we'll it's ok, anyway its the presumably evil men who are being exterminated."
"Good riddance. Just don't kill the innocent," some reportedly say.
What is viewed by a multitude in the outside world as uncivilized, barbaric, outlandish, as it denies man's fundamental and cherished human right to due process, is apparently and ironically welcomed by a number of the locals.
It may even just be promoted as a tourism attraction, just as the local leaders there are looking for a unique tourist attaraction for Dumaguete City.
So if you want to experience a bizarre kind of instant justice, come and visit Dumaguete.
It's just an hour's plane ride from Manila.
Stay there for a few days (preferably on weekends), keep tuned to the local t.v. or radio for instant text-message announcements of a killing. Chances are, you may just witness vigilantism at its best.
If you are quick enough to get to the site of an extrajudicial killing, you will find a pool of blood, a lifeless body with several fresh gunshot wounds, and perhaps responding policemen who may arrive at the scene later than you.
With the unabated extrajudicial killings by messianic vigilantes, Dumaguete is "re-inventing" itself.
It's becoming a virtual killing field.


Corey said...

Maayong buntag. I am quite saddened by the news of this current landscape of lawlessness in Dumaguete. I have been reading about such acts in Cebu for more than a year, so perhaps it is not surprising that such behavior has invaded the seaside City of Gentle People. This new brand of "justice" presents a unique challenge to local officials and police because, as you say, these acts aren't being overwhelmingly condemned. Perhaps there is a general consensus that if the PNP was effective at doing its job then no one would have to step up and try to fill in the gaps by any means necessary. At the end of the day, though, these killings are nothing more than murders carried out by people whom are simply fed up. That will never be a reasonable basis to end someone's life. Even the Apostle Paul, after playing the part of an accessory to murder in the cases of countless innocent Christians, was given a pardon by the saving blood of Christ.

I will continue to remember Dumaguete before the Lord each day, asking that His saving grace would be sufficient to heal this town of its deep wounds.

Wyonna Alvarez said...

Dumaguete used to be known as "The City of Gentle People", but with what's happening in the city these past few years has proved that the city is no longer one of gentle people. It has only proved that the city is no longer safe. I believe that the government should be more strict with the police. The police in the city are not of the highest standards. The government should move to improve the police. It makes me wonder why in other bigger cities, the rate of unsolved crimes is less than the one we have in the city. It is not because we have a disadvantage to bigger cities. It is because the government does not really try the capabilities of the police.Whatever the police are able to solve that's okay, the government does not push the police to really work on the unsolved crimes. Soon the unsolved crimes will just be forgotten and the victims will not be at peace because the perpetrator of the crime just escaped. Recently my father got killed and the police said that it was the 40th unsolved crime in the city. The police does not try hard enough. They do not try to find new information;they only listen to what my family and I know. They only depend on the information we give. The info we give are the only ones they release to the press. Knowing the type of bullet used in killing my father is not enough, it does not bring him justice. If only the police and the government really try to improve their services,the city would not only have less unsolved crimes but also a safer place not only for those living in the city but also for tourists and business investors like my father.

-Wyonna Chezska Alvarez