FORMER Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge Renato Fuentes let off steam when he stood to deliver a short remark during the City Peace and Order Council initial meeting for the year.

He assailed the attempts of some quarters to destroy the wholesome image of Davao City both in domestic and international. The good judge who recently retired said that he has been keeping his thoughts on the unrelenting stab of those who shout to the world that extra-judicial killings (EJK) happen in Davao City and are being condoned. But not anymore. He asserts that there is no such thing as state-sponsored murder in the city and that killing, if any, is never condoned.

For updates from around the country, follow Sun.Star on Twitter

Citizen Fuentes says now he is no longer in the judiciary, he is free to express his thoughts on any issues. The former judge did not name names during his commentary during the peace forum at the Grand Menseng Hotel. But it is evident that he is referring to the Human Rights Commission open-ended investigation and the local human rights watch group, which has ties with New York and Washington-based HRW that had been harping on the alleged EJK in Davao. HRC and the HRW found an ally in Speaker Prospero Nograles who publicly admitted having gone to the US to bring the issue of EJK in Davao and most recently in a nationwide telecast in Boy Abunda's "Bottomline" program.

In that program, the public was made to believe that there is a mass grave for victims of EJK when in fact there was none.

I sympathize with Judge Fuentes' sentiments. He found it disturbing that some quarters paint Davao City as a dangerous place to live in and as a tourist destination when in fact residents in the city and visitors who came, despite the negative publicity spawned by the CHR and HRW, found the place to be peaceful.

It is indeed some kind of self-flagellation. DXRD host Nerio Guimte likens the negative attack on Davao's peace and development to the wreck being done on a house by termites. He said the attack starts within and that before you know it the structure of the house collapses.

This is not to say moreover that there are no killings in Davao. The statistics that HRW presented is quite accurate but they lumped all the casualty for the last 11 years and three months together.

If I recall right they recorded 586 alleged EJK or about 53 persons killed every year. CHR and the HRW have gone around the winding route of explaining and then to attribute the killings to the government. They merely mentioned in passing the existence of drug syndicates, drug pushers, drug lords and even failed to mention the existence of a drug laboratory in Davao.

What makes Judge Fuentes indignation right is that when over 2,000 members of drug syndicates in Thailand were killed by their drug bosses in order to silence them following the announcement of the government to run after them, the human rights groups including the United Nations Human Rights Commission did not even raise a whimper of protest.

And how come Thai government officials do not make a fuss about the summary killings of members of the drug syndicates? Simply said, the Thais do not want to picture their country as a dangerous place. A big chunk of the economic revenues of Thailand is derived from tourism so why make a big issue about drug the extermination of members of the drug cartels and their syndicates?

We're not saying we should condone this. We just have to get our facts right.

As City Prosecutor Pines Bendigo had written the Human Rights Commission, there is no evidence to pin the policemen and whoever CHR are suspecting to be involved in the execution of drug distributors and pushers.

The patterns of killing are similar to what happened in Thailand. The same thing happened in Mexico when the government announced that it will undertake a no-nonsense drive to run after the drug lords. The big bosses eliminated the members of their syndicate to silence them hoping that they will not be identified and arrested.

In Mexico, a country that shares a common border with the southwestern states of the US, the bosses of the drug cartels waged a clean up drive against their own members to cut themselves clean. This started when President Barack Obama made public the US commitment to help the Mexican government deal with the drug cartels, which are the source of huge shipment of illegal drugs slipped through the border.

In a reflex reaction the drug lords engaged not only the government forces but also each other's private militia. The Mexican police force looked puny compared to the cartel's arms and goons such that the government had to call the military and even asked the US to help them. In less than two years after the government announced an all-out-war against drug syndicates, more than 15,000 members of the notorious drug syndicates in Mexico were killed. NO ONE, not even the UNCHR or the HRW ever dubbed the killings "extra-judicial-killing"!

Ironically, Mexico is just under its nose. Why has not UNCHR special rapporteur Philip Alston raised an issue against the manslaughter which has far exceeded the daily statistics in Iraq and Afghanistan?

But as Judge Fuentes remorsefully observed, we have among us people who seem to find pleasure in picturing Davao City before national and international fora as a place where extra-judicial murders are carried out.

Thankfully, against all the claims of EJK, Davao City continues to be the haven of foreigners who lived here in serenity. The city sustains its position as the most competitive city in the Philippines. Investments in various industries continue to pour in and migrants have grown in alarming rate.

Davao City Chamber President Sim Marfori expressed apprehension that crime syndicates might return to the city if by remote possibility the leadership style of the next mayor will depart from that of Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. It looks like he is confident now that the brand of leadership will stay since the intrepid daughter of the mayor will likely succeed him, if we were to believe the surveys, and furthermore, the mayor himself has decided to run for vice mayor.

What we have is a good package of uncompromising leaders who will ensure our security, peace and development for the next decade. That should comfort President Marfori and Judge Fuentes too.