DAVAO CITY, Philippines — City Mayor Sara Duterte stood by her appointee, Davao City Police Office Acting City Director Senior Superintendent Alexander Tagum on Tuesday, saying that Tagum’s track record in the police force, including his controversial stint as provincial police chief of North Cotabato were among the factors that led to his appointment.
Duterte said she believed that the violent dispersal of protesting farmers in Kidapawan April of last year was a “learning experience” for Tagum that he could then apply in the city.
“He might do it again, he might not do it again,” Duterte told reporters during a press conference on Tuesday as she met Tagum in his office at the DCPO headquarters in San Pedro Street here.
“Pero kabalo ta naa siyay experience na ing-ana therefore naa siya’y learning experience na ‘pag ma encounter niya usab, naa na siya’y top of the mind na mao na ang buhaton” (But we already know that he has experienced these situations therefore he already has a learning experience that has taught him, on top of his mind, of what to do), Duterte said.
“He is my choice, and I am the city mayor,” she added.
Tagum hit headlines April of last year after anti-riot police under his command dispersed some 4,500 protesting farmers barricading the Kidapawan highway. The dispersal left three protesters dead and countless others on both sides injured.
Tagum was relieved from his post as the provincial police chief after the incident. Tagum served as provincial police chief briefly in Abra before being appointed by Duterte as DCPO chief.
For his part, Tagum said he was “humbled” by Duterte’s trust, and assured that he will be doing his best to live up to her expectations.
‘Blood debt,’ ‘NDF indictment’
In a statement, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan Southern Mindanao Region spokesperson Sheena Duazo hit Tagum’s appointment, saying Tagum’s appointment would “spell looming human rights violations, abuse of authority and killings in Davao City.”
“Lest we forget that Mr. Tagum has blood debt to farmers in Kidapawan City during the April 1 Kidapawan massacre last year. Lest we forget that Tagum has a long established record of being a fascist head of police in North Cotabato. He is directly responsible to the killing of 2 people and wounding of 50 others in that incident,” Duazo said.
Duazo said Tagum’s appointment will be met with “growing resistance.”
Duazo said Bayan and its umbrella organizations will reiterate their calls “to prosecute him and hold him accountable over Kidapawan massacre and various crimes.”
Read related story: ‘Blood debt to Kidapawan farmers’: Group hits Davao’s new police chief
Meanwhile in a statement released on Monday, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines Southern Mindanao region ordered the arrest of the “principals” of the dispersal, including Tagum as the ground commander of the police.
Others included in the list were former President Benigno Aquino III, North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza, Kidapawan City Mayor Joseph Evangelista, and North Cotabato Representative Nancy Catamco.
“The indictment described the inutility of the reactionary national and provincial government over the widespread damage caused by the severe drought to the lives and livelihood of the Lumad and farmers,” said NDF spokesperson Rubi del Mundo.
Read: Arrest Aquino, 3 gov’t officials for ‘war crimes’ –Reds
“It, likewise, underscored that in the face of such devastation, the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) with the consent of the provincial reactionary officials continued to unleash fascist abuse in the countryside, especially in arming and mobilizing the paramilitary Bagani in North Cotabato,” Del Mundo added.(davaotoday.com)