General Admission

Davao’s version of Dirty Harry


By Al S. Mendoza

DAVAO CITY – You smoke here in public, you go to jail.

You drive discourteously here, you go to jail.

These are just two of the “light penalties” you incur when you break city ordinances here.

Mayor Duterte has banned smoking in public here more than 10 years ago already.

The people obey the law.


Because it is being enforced to the hilt.

Police are always on the prowl for law-breakers. They pounce on every culprit.

No one is spared.

If you are a friend of Mayor Duterte’s and you break the law, the more reason you are thrown to jail.

You are his relative? You draw more penalties than usual.

“He’s not called Dirty Harry for nothing,” said Ken Angeles, a restaurateur, of Mayor Duterte who is also known as Digong.

To Mayor Duterte, public service is also a sacred job.

He hates to hear tourists and visitors to the city being conned by anyone dealing with them.

You are a cabbie, and you try to do some hanky-panky at the airport, beware.

Months back, the Mayor ordered strict implementation on courtesy and proper dealing with visitors to the city, particularly those coming in through the airport.

He did that after hearing reports of rampant misdeeds of cabbies while transporting visitors to their hotels or even returning residents to their homes.

But despite severe warnings of grave punishment for erring cabbies, the malpractice kept unabated.

One night, a male passenger alighted from the international airport – purportedly – and took a cab on his way to the city.

The cabbie didn’t switch on the taxi meter.

Midway into the trip, the passenger requested the cabbie to switch on the taxi meter.

The cabbie refused. “You just pay me five hundred pesos but if you refuse, then better disembark now.”

“I refuse,” said the passenger.

The cabbie pulled over. “Sorry, but please step out now.”

“I will,” said the passenger, “but before we part ways, here’s one for you.”

One shot rang out to shatter the stillness of the night.

Next morning, the police found the cabbie slumped in his cab, lying in a pool of blood. A single bullet was pumped into his temple.

A placard covered the cabbie’s body with the words, “I am a bad cabbie.”

The next morning, the local papers bannered the killing of the cabbie.

The murder remains unsolved to this day.

I’m not saying Dirty Harry did it.

Neither will I say Dirty Harry ordered it. Or he had something to do with it.

“I feel for the cabbie,” said Ken. “But after that incident, complaints about cabbie abuse to the Mayor’s office have stopped.”

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