The Davao demolition involving Mayor Sara Duterte needs to be seen within the context of the court case (if the judgment to vacate the private lot is final and executory), the observance of proper legal procedures and of the Urban Development and Housing Act (UDHA), and of the human rights of the informal settlers concerned. If there are violations here, these should have been threshed out before the demolition was carried out.
Barring any new fact, the demolition was evidently approved by Mayor Duterte when she allowed the city police to aid the sheriff, provided security to demolition personnel, and otherwise conducted a dialogue and reached an agreement for a two-hour reprieve. If there are violations in the demolition, Mayor Duterte is as much liable as the court and its sheriff.
However, the demolition is not the issue at hand. The issue against Mayor Duterte consists of mauling a fellow person in authority and preventing him from doing his duty. In human rights terms, she is is being accused of abuse of her authority.
Her immediate reaction of boxing the court sheriff–at least insofar as we can discern from the videos–can be understood within the context of the demolition which coincided with ongoing flood crisis. If true, her request for a two-hour reprieve is reasonable and can easily be agreed to by the sheriff–to which in fact he agreed to. However, when the period was up, the sheriff did not wait anymore for the mayor and proceeded with the demolition. The demolition was resisted by the informal settlers and there was a scuffle.
At that point, Mayor Duterte arrived and, evidently incensed, proceeded to berate and maul the sheriff. Not content with this, she had her bodyguards chase the sheriff, handcuff him, and also maul him. Her defenders would later point to the 2-hour agreement, the sheriff’s decision not to consult with the mayor anymore, and the consequent breakdown in peace and order as justifications for mauling.
Mayor Sara Duterte’s acts constitute a human rights violation and provide a basis for filing an administrative case and even a criminal case against her. Hers was not a case of defending the poor and their human rights but rather of an abusive public official who thinks she is the law in Davao City. Her defenders among the Davaoeños and elsewhere should reflect on their misplaced acclamation.