Duterte Was Wrong To Have Expressed Her Anger Through Punching

I would like to thank all who have participated in the discussion on the unfortunate incident involving Mayor Sara Duterte and Sheriff she punched in anger.

In presenting my position on this blog, I made a distinction between anger and the manner in which anger is expressed.

In the ensuing discussion, I am grateful to all who have understood this distinction. Among those who have, however, a concern that has been raised is that I have not adequately denounced the Mayor for expressing her anger in the manner that she did.

This point is well taken. Having worked to stop many illegal demolitions in the past in favor of the poor, my immediate sympathy was with the person trying to stop the demolition. The Mayor’s request for two hours stay of demolition was not unreasonable. The mandatory coordination with local government mandated by RA 7279 was absent. In my view, the sheriff was wrong. Admittedly, I focused more on the righteous anger than on the unrighteous manner in which the anger was expressed. Admittedly, in my writing, I may have treated the punching itself too abstractly and too lightly. It was wrong. And it should also have called forth my anger, as it did the anger of many decent citizens.

So, as an offshoot of this dialogue, let me state for the record that in the end I agree with all those vigorously condemning the manner in which Mayor Duterte expressed her anger – the punching – as unacceptable, deplorable, barbaric and as a violent violation of the person an office of the Sheriff. I agree that it is ultimately conduct unbecoming the head of Davao’s local government. I agree as well that from my office as a key educator I should not be misunderstood to be supporting such “bullying” behavior in our democratic society, especially if the context of the past Duterte administration, to which so much macchiavelian violence is attributed. I agree that if the punching is not just an unfortunate, ill-considered expression of anger, but a symbol of a culture of governance, it too must be vigorously condemned.

To Father Sean Coyle from Bacolod, let me say that I am one with Atty. Alfred Sipaco of the Davao Commission on Human Rights and with the Archbishop Fernando Capalla of Davao in condemning all forms of extrajudicial and summary killings – including those which you enumerate in your comment’s questions to me. Had the flashflood not occurred, the ADDU would have been part of the multisectoral indignation rally that had been planned for July 1st, and shall also be part of the indignation rally once it is reorganized.

About Joel Tabora, S.J.

Jesuit. Educator
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22 Responses to Duterte Was Wrong To Have Expressed Her Anger Through Punching

  1. Happy says:

    Thanks for clarifying your position Father.

  2. my dearest father president, i thank you for this blog entry. i was left with the impression that you were agreeable to the way mayor sara manhandled the sheriff.

  3. sunshine says:

    thank you for clearing things up fr. joel.

  4. Helen says:

    I am amazed at how easily people take things out of context. I don’t think there is any reason to justify your position on the matter. The expression of her anger in this matter was wrong, there is no argument about that. But this wrong is indeed a virtue. She did it to express her exasperation of a system that is grossly biased to the haves. What is two hours of stay while things were being sorted out? I don’t know what kind of laws the Philippines has that pertains to delays in demolition, but in the US, there are local ordinances that provides for demolition delays in order to protect any historic sites that maybe affected. Historic sites!! Darn buildings!! In this case, we are talking human lives!!! the lives of the underprivileged who can’t afford lawyers, and judges that the Mayor is trying to protect!! Why the demolition? So that a commercial site can be erected? Is a living, breathing, thinking, suffering human being not worth two hours of that darn sheriff’s time? Yes she was wrong for assaulting that Sheriff, but her wrong is a virtue, I agree. In the face of a calamity, a human would be so heartless to displace 200 families with no provisions for alternative shelter? Doesn’t the mayor command authority in this case? He could have allowed the mayor to sort it out with the judge.. the least he could have done is recognize her authority…I am not condoning her action.. but I applaud her for doing something about a matter that most of us don’t have the heart to deal with…

  5. leo says:

    I still think and feel punching and even manhandling the sheriff, who has turned into a criminal, is the appropriate action at that moment under the circumstance. The question really is how should a criminal be stopped from further violating UDHA. The penal provision of the UDHA is the ff.: RA 7279 UDHA —
    Sec. 45. Penalty Clause. — Any person who violates any provision of this Act shall be imposed the penalty of not more than six (6) years of imprisonment or a fine of not less than Five thousand pesos (P5,000) but not more than One hundred thousand pesos (P100,000), or both, at the discretion of the court: Provided, That, if the offender is a corporation, partnership, association or other juridical entity, the penalty shall be imposed on the officer or officers of said corporation, partnership, association or juridical entity who caused the violation.

    It has happened so many times. public officers, who turn corrupt; cops, who violate human rights; now a sheriff, using a court order, violating UDHA. The sad part is all public officers then present, including the barangay and police, were blinded as if the sheriff was doing right, when the unrealized fact was he was already a criminal violating RA 7279.

    While Mayor Inday Sara was angry then, she may well be feeling other emotions, which is all immaterial. Punching indeed stopped the criminal from further committing the crime of violation of RA 7279. Her police escort was right in restraining that criminal-sheriff. What remained to be, and should have been, done was booked him at Sta. Ana Police Precinct.

    Father, your education on bullying should be complete and wholistic. Her punching is not bullying. It certainly was not motivated by depraved, evil or corrupt intentions. As I understand, bullying is one done out of a dysfunctional character; from a sick mind, as it were. As a true blue Atenean, I have always been taught not to bully; but if one is a victim or a witness to bullying, one should not backed out to stop bullying.

    This is all akin to Summary Killing, which is another form of bullying. At an instant, a victim or witness to an attempt of summary killing, can very well use reasonable force against the assailant, including killing him, in other to prevent summary killing. So with a sheriff who is violating the law.

    • Gladys says:


      Clearly you advocate violence, even with your knowledge of the law, unfortunately. None of those penalties you mentioned regarding the violation of RA 7279 include PHYSICAL ASSAULT. Mayor Sarah is cognizant of this law, I am pretty sure, but she chose to slur it over. A malefaction (in this case, Sarah’s smack) cannot correct a violation, instead, it flops her in her own legal battle. Let the sheriff take on the ramification of his ignorance of the law. You mentioned that Duterte’s bludgeoning the sheriff was not bullying because it was lacking of “corrupt intentions”. Merriam-Webster defines corruption as “a sinking to a state of low moral standards and BEHAVIOR”. The word corruption clearly defines Duterte’s actions, and I would surmise that you must be a staunch fan of the Dutertes or an advocate of violence if you insist that her action was NOT bullying.

      Fr. Tabora,

      I laud you for unriddling your stand on Mayor Sarah’s rage, and for stoutly condemning violence. My respect and admiration for your leadership has been restored, and I wish you the best in spearheading ADDU community! God bless!

  6. leo says:

    Gladys, I am sorry if you’re such a peacemaker as to just watch the riot, “indian” pana, police brutality, criminal-sheriff violating human rights, and violating RA 7279, all happening before your so-called “violence” on the sheriff. If you yourself will just sit by and watch while ACTUAL violence happening all over, or just sit by while bullying is ACTUALLY happening or while summary killing happening on-going right before your eyes, either as a victim or as a witness, I guess, I should be happy interacting with a saint. At least, I will agree with you that we are poles apart.

    Besides, of course, all laws do not provide physical assault as a penalty. And, I do not mind if Cong. Nograles would file a bill amending this law to include physical assault as a penalty. How many punches? What do you think? 4 more than Inday’s? to the left eye, right eye, nose? so on and so forth. See the irrationality of your statement that RA7279 does not include physical assault. See the ocean of possibilities if it is allowed. Not only punches, perhaps.

    But still, the law provides guidelines because “eviction and demolition” is violent; and violence enough. Any person violating the guidelines is a criminal, so says the law.

    Also, it is all in the “name” – physical assault, violence, arrest, restraint, force, means. But still, a person is in the right using means and force in stopping a criminal about to commit, or is committing a crime or even immediately thereafter. Violence is not my advocacy, it is the advocacy of the law. Maybe you can add a first name – Lawful Violence, ie. force against criminals about to commit, or is committing or immediately thereafter, is JUSTIFIED. Peter, our first year law contributor, should know this since it is taught in 1st semester, 1st year.

    Has anyone not heard of the fair lawful warning of the authorities that Davao City is a dangerous place for criminals? That includes the criminal-sheriff. We are all peace-loving people, like you, and should shout the same fair warning as well, so that all criminals can hear and make amends.

    So, our slogan will be “No to Summary Killing, No to punching, No to physical assault, No to bullying, No to violence, No to criminals, No to eviction and demolition”

    • Gladys says:


      “No to Summary Killing, No to punching, No to physical assault, No to bullying, No to violence, No to criminals, No to eviction and demolition”

      It is very ironic how you come out with this slogan yet you condone Duterte’s punch on the sheriff. Don’t you see violence in her action?

      “See the irrationality of your statement that RA7279 does not include physical assault.”

      I was merely stating the fact that none of the penalties you highlighted in your post include physical assault, so I do not see the appropriateness of calling me irrational. You claim that you do not advocate violence but aren’t you double-dealing when you expressed your support of a law adding physical assault as a penalty and yet you’re using the catchphrase “No violence”. Make your position clear, mister. Call me a saint or whatever, but I will not be on the side that espouse violence, so please ask anyone on your side about the number of punches appropriate for what would be a sleazy law that includes punching as a penalty.

      Without physically expressing her rage, I believe Mayor Sarah has the right clutch and respect to stop a demolition, a violence, or even a criminal. This statement is said due to the fact that the Dutertes have strong influence in the city, everyone is aware of this. Mayor Sarah has the leverage to stop the demolition without attacking a helpless cop. Resorting to your so-called lawful violence was uncalled for in the situation. The cop was merely carrying an order, which unfortunately lacked compassion for those whose homes were about to be demolished. Call the sheriff a criminal for violating a law, but didn’t the Mayor also infringed the law for assaulting a fellow public servant, which would make her unlawful as well. Both of them have breached laws so let them brazen the corollary of their actions. Had the Mayor chosen a non-violent path, she would not be in a spotlight that unfortunately divided Davaoenos and veered the nation’s attention away from the flashflood incident. Certainly we can all move on — focus our attention on helping the victims of flooding and allow the law to take care of what happened during the demolition, but we must not remain complacent with violence, especially those committed by abusive individuals of authority.

      • leo says:

        No breach of law by one who stops a criminal. Response (another mild name for violence, physical assault) on the criminal depends on the circumstances, including appreciation of those present and that of Mayor Inday. Cops can even kill criminals; there’s no breach. If you want to treat the criminal-sheriff nice, fine; that’s also allowed. Precisely, I want to agree with you that we are poles apart. If you want to disagree with that as well, fine also.

        Besides, I think I was clear enough. I will leave you with how you understood or misunderstood things.

        I just leave this discussion, though, with this thought that — Did not VM Rody Duterte gave a legal fair warning to the sheriff that if he does the same crime again, he will receive not only punches? That’s fair warning as he had always warned all criminals in general; and that’s not being abusive nor being summary; notice was given.

  7. pie says:

    Two thumbs up, Father Joel.

  8. isipgala says:

    I agree with all your points, Father as I have always believed in the principle of active non-violence.

    PS. Father, I think it’s Alberto Sipaco, not Alfred po. 🙂

  9. Pingback: Duterte Was Wrong To Have Expressed Her Anger Through Punching (via taborasj) « Isipang Gala

  10. justiceleague68 says:

    Like! 🙂

  11. justiceleague68 says:

    This incident has always reminded me of this quote from Aristotle: “Anyone can become angry – that is easy, but to be angry with the right person at the right time, and for the right purpose and in the right way – that is not within everyone’s power and that is not easy.”

  12. Thank you, Father Tabora, for the clarity of your position above. The request of Mayor Carpio – Duterte is her middle name, not her surname – may well have been a reasonable one but her action cannot be dissociated from the whole culture of violence, lawlessness and murder that has flourished during her father’s years as mayor. By having him as her running-mate she implicitly approves of all of that.

    May ADDU be a powerful voice against that culture of death.

    On the question of anger, one of the things we stress in Worldwide Marriage Encounter is that feelings are neither right nor wrong. It’s the actions that we choose to do that are either right or wrong. Feeling angry can in itself never be wrong. Paul O’Dwyer, an Irish-born politician in New York City in the late 1960s came up with the slogan ‘Give a Damn’. He wanted people to be angry at injustices but wanted to channel that anger in positive ways. He succeeded to some extent. I truly believe, after living here for almost 40 years, that the Philippines needs some of that spirit.

    God bless you

  13. no to walrus punches says:

    I have noticed nowadays that the way we use the phrase “to clarify” is almost the same with “to agree with me”. When somebody says something we feel to be wrong or different from what we believe in, we tend to attack that same person into submission by saying “clarify it”.
    Honestly, I am disgusted of how some readers attacked the very person of Fr. Joel only because his view on the Duterte punching incident was initially against some people’s beliefs. And I am even more disgusted on how these same people seem satiated by seeing that the terms are already on their side and declared that “all is clarified”.

    I am against Duterte in her act of punching the poor Sheriff. But I am also against these people who batter all opposition into submission, which is not so much different with the Dutertes’ barbaric actions lately. The only difference is that they think they are morally better because they batter in words, not in fists. Shame on you people.

  14. east graeme says:

    and every gives their own punches. self-righteousness is indeed a vice. i can almost see the leering faces of the people here; slobbering too, all set to lynch those who disagree with them. how sad, indeed. now who is battering people into submission? shame on you too.

  15. Ryan says:

    I think the basic issue here is that we shouldn’t be endorsing or agreeing in acts when they are wrong, the same way we can’t justify theft just because the thief will give it to the poor in the end. Everyone deserves a decent treatment. I’m not glad that I’m seeing the blog writer SUBMIT to have the same opinion that I have. I’m just glad that he clarifies that THIS is his very opinion in the first place.

    I think some feedback here assume that the blog writer changed his position. He didn’t, and it doesn’t mean he is bullied just because he clarifies his stand.

    That’s called class people. And in classy moves like this, there are no flashing of dirty fingers involved.

  16. Ups says:

    And there goes the constrained opinion of a swayed subordinate priest. Father, we understand and it will not lessen a bit our respect and reverence for you. You have spoken your true heart in Moving Days….and that’s what matters.

  17. vinzz says:

    Tama lang jud ng e clarfiy nimo “father” kay para dili kaayo lain sa imo part nga magkampi-kampi. Maayo man ang intensyon ni inday sarah pero mali lang jud ang pagsumbag kay sheriff. Luoy pud ang tao. Mamali jud pud baya ang tao. Kung let us say, si Piolo Pascual tong sheriff, sumbagon kaya to ni inday? (according to our philo). haha. Anyways, good that we have a humble and mo accept ug mga harsh critics from the crowd. What has already happened cannot be undone, but what happened is a lesson so that it will not happen in the future again. May the Holy Spirit dwells on you sir.

  18. The act of Mayor Sara was wrong in any context. She must be moral and ethical in handling the situation.

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