While Filipinos rallied behind Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte for his warning to decimate the criminal population if he is the President, fishermen’s associations, fish dealers and vendors in MetroManila are gearing up for an appeal to Duterte not to dump dead bodies of criminals into Manila Bay.
Duterte, a potential candidate in the 2016 presidential derby, has vowed that if he becomes President, he would terminate 100,000 criminals and dump their bodies into Manila Bay for the fishes to feast on.
The fishes in Manila Bay will be fatter, he said.
Manila Bay fishermen are worried over the morbid scenario of catching fish that gobbled up dead people: Who will buy and eat our catch with the public knowing that they will be eating fish who ate people?
But the threat is no hot air.
Duterte is suspected as the brain behind the deadly .45 cal.-armed motorcycle-riding Davao Death Squad (DDS), blamed for the summary executions of hundreds of criminals including drug dealers in Davao City.
Duterte warned to exterminate criminals and dump their bodies into Manila Bay as the DDS killings came into focus anew over a demand for a probe into human rights violations allegedly committed by Duterte.
The New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) recently asked the Aquino government to investigate Duterte for his link to the DDS.
The human rights group also assailed Duterte for promoting extra-judicial killing in his speaking engagements as the ultimate cure to the country’s criminality problems.
Duterte admitted his links to the gunmen and was proud that killing criminals made his city one of the safest cities of the world.
Duterte said killing criminals is the secret to peace in his city.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, who hounded the Duterte over the DDS killings in a 2009 investigation as then chair of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), said Duterte should be charged for admitting his links to the DDS and the extrajudicial killings.
Duterte has dared De Lima to file charges.
The media—newspaper, radio and television, social media, websites and blogs— are lapping up the continuing Duterte-De Lima word war with reports and commentaries with majority tilting with approval towards the Davao City mayor’s iron-fist policy against crime as against the Justice secretary’s defense of human rights.
While Duterte and De Lima are locked in verbal warfare, the threat of dead bodies of criminals being dumped into the bay has brought a scare to the fishing industry.
We foresee the impact on the economy and livelihood and health and food security of this kind of campaign against criminality, said Rigor Zabala, chairman of the Samahang Mamalakaya sa Navotas (Samana), an association of sustenance fishermen making livelihood from marine resources of Manila Bay.
There will be a fish scare, said Zabala.
Zabala believes that the threat of Duterte, who is known for his iron-fist campaign against criminality, is imminent and bound to happen as the Davao City mayor could be the President after the 2016 election.
Even as he has yet to announce his bid for president, Duterte has emerged in the top three in surveys for presidential preference conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) and Pulse Asia.
With fish in Manila Bay eating rotting flesh of criminals, who will now buy and eat the fish we catch from the bay? Zabala worried.
Samana has hundreds of members of small-scale fishermen and fish dealers based in Navotas, the fish capital of the National Capital Region (NCR).
Thousands of fishermen in the shoreline areas around the Manila Bay depend on the rich resources of the bay.
Zabala said his fear of a fish scare in case Duterte dumps dead bodies into Manila Bay, is also shared by fish dealers and retailers, markets and department stores and the public.
With Manilans refusing our fish, we see a serious increase in prices as we would be getting supply from the provinces, said Zabala. He said fish catch from Manila Bay supplies a big percentage of demand for fish in Manila.
Zabala said his group is leading an appeal to Duterte against dumping bodies in Manila Bay to save other fishermen in the provinces from the situation that they could be in once Duterte is President and could not be stopped from making his threat real.
This is going to be a national disaster, said Zabala.
He said if the Duterte anti-crime formula of killing criminals and dumping their bodies into the sea is carried out in a nation-wide scale, nobody would be eating fish caught in Philippine waters.
Duterte, because he is the President, can have all the seas and oceans in the country as cemetery for dead bodies of criminals, he said.
Zabala adds: Under the Duterte anti-crime formula every body of sea water in every city, municipality or province throughout the country becoming graveyards and dumping ground for dead criminals for fish to eat! Oh my God! The fish scare would be a national disaster!
Fish scare triggered by aversion to fish suspected as fattened by flesh from rotting bodies of humans, almost always spread like wildfire following marine accidents like ship collisions where thousands of passengers die or are missing at sea.
But the Department of Health (DOH) said there is nothing unhealthful about people eating fish who ate people.
“People are edible,” said a DOH official when fish scare swept Davao City after about 50 Army troopers went down in a crashed C130 carrier plane in Davao Gulf several years ago.
Is De Lima in the list?
At the top of the hate list of criminals of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte are drug lords, drug pushers, drug users, police and military personnel, and any government official or employee linked to illegal drugs.
Early this year, authorities unearthed a drug dealing operation of nation-wide scale right inside the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa, Rizal run by 20 bigtime convicted drug lords incarcerated in the national penitentiary.
The discovery led to a scandal that linked prison officials silenced by drug money about the drug operation.
The New Bilibid Prison is administered by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), an agency under the Department of Justice (DOJ) headed by Secretary Leila de Lima.
The drug operations had been going on for years.
Did de Lima knew about it?
Should de Lima belong to the hate list of criminals of Duterte for apparently, as DOJ sec, failing to see the massive drug operation?
De Lima of late has lambasted Duterte for human rights violations in relation to the killing of suspected criminals by the Davao Death Squad that she said is headed by Duterte.
Without directly saying it, for Duterte, de Lima is a “criminal” who “fattened” drug kingpins operating inside the New Bilibid Prison, which is under the control of the DOJ.
Being that, will de Lima be counted as among the 100,000 criminals that Duterte plans to exterminate and dump in Manila Bay if he becomes the President in 2016?