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MANILA, Philippines - The head of the Philippine government's Commission on Human Rights on Thursday condemned Davao City vice mayor Rodrigo Duterte for forcing an accused swindler to eat his counterfeit documents.
Commission chairwoman Loretta Ann Rosales said she would call on the secretary of interior to take action against Duterte for his alleged abuse of the suspect.
Duterte, a former mayor of Davao known for his hardline stance against crime, forced the man in police custody on Tuesday to eat fake land titles that he had been selling to squatters.
"I dont care who you are, you don't abuse your authority. Forcing a person to eat fake land titles is in fact a form of torture," Rosales told AFP.
She described the incident as another example of the "impunity" afflicting the Philippines, where powerful men believe they are free to abuse and even kill people who cross them.
"It was so blatant and nobody could do anything because he is Vice Mayor Duterte. He is like God in Davao City," she said.
But Rosales said that even Duterte's political alliance with President Benigno Aquino should not shield him for violating the laws against torture.
Duterte was a longtime mayor of the sprawling city of Davao, considered the trading capital of the resource-rich island of Mindanao.
As mayor he openly basked in an image of toughness against crime while Davao become known for numerous unsolved killings of suspected petty criminals at the hands of so-called "death squads".
Government term limits prevented Duterte from running as mayor in 2010 so he ran for vice mayor instead, with his daughter Sara Duterte running for and becoming mayor.
Last year Mayor Sara Duterte also garnered national attention after she publicly punched a court sheriff who ignored her call not to demolish some squatter shanties. She later apologised for the incident.