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Duterte vows to kill criminals and reintroduce hanging in Philippines

May 17, 2016 · 

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Philippines’ President-elect Rodrigo Duterte, speaks to the media for the first time after claiming victory in the presidential election, at a restaurant in Davao City. Photograph: Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty Images

Philippines’ president-elect Rodrigo Duterte has vowed to reintroduce capital punishment, give security forces the power to “shoot-to-kill” criminals and offer cabinet posts to communists.

In his first press conference since winning the 9 May elections in a landslide, Duterte, the tough-talking mayor of the southern city of Davao, also said he will launch a major military offensive to destroy Abu Sayyaf Islamist extremists on southern Jolo Island.

The announcements, a sharp departure from current government policy, reflect his brash campaign pledge to end crime and corruption in the impoverished nation in three to six months.

Police officials have said the plan is undoable, and that crime remains prevalent in Davao city, where Duterte has served as mayor for more than 22 years.

Duterte also said he would pursue peace talks with Marxist guerrillas and as an olive branch would offer government roles to the Communist party, including its exiled founder – most likely the cabinet posts of environment and natural resources, agrarian reform, social welfare, and labour.

“They are the most vigilant group in the Philippines about labour so they would get it,” Duterte said.

The move would be strongly opposed by big business and industry.

Duterte said he wanted capital punishment – which was abolished in 2006 under then-president Gloria Arroyo – to be reintroduced for a wide range of crimes, particularly drugs, but also rape, murder and robbery.

Capital punishment by hanging, he said, should be imposed for heinous crimes, and criminals convicted of killing along with robbery and rape should be meted “double the hanging.”

“After the first hanging, there will be another ceremony for the second time until the head is completely severed from the body,” he said.

He added he preferred death by hanging to a firing squad because he did not want to waste bullets, and because he believed snapping the spine with a noose was more humane.

Duterte vowed during the campaign to kill tens of thousands criminals, outraging his critics but hypnotising tens of millions of Filipinos fed up with rampant crime and graft.

He said he would give security forces “shoot-to-kill” orders against organised criminals or those who violently resisted arrest.

“If you resist, show violent resistance, my order to police (will be) to shoot to kill. Shoot to kill for organised crime. You heard that? Shoot to kill for every organised crime,” he said.

He said military sharp shooters would be enlisted in his campaign to kill criminals.

He complained that people no longer feared the law, and he would change that.

“We have a society now where obedience to the law is really a choice, an option only,” he said.

“Do not destroy my country because I will kill you. I will kill you. No middle ground. As long as the requirements of the law are there, if you try to evade arrest, refuse arrest… and you put up a good fight or resist violently, I will say: ‘Kill them’.”

Duterte also vowed to introduce a 2am curfew on drinking in public places, and ban children from walking on the streets alone late at night.

If children were picked up on the streets, their parents would be arrested and thrown into jail for “abandonment”, he said.

Duterte will be sworn into office on 30 June for a six-year term.

The current president, Benigno Aquino, warned repeatedly during the campaign that Duterte was a dictator in the making and would bring terror to the nation.

Duterte has been accused of running vigilant death squads during his more than two decades as mayor of Davao. Rights groups say the squads – made up of police, hired assassins and ex-communist rebels – have killed more than 1,000 people.

They say children and petty criminals were among the victims.

Duterte boasted on one occasion during the campaign of being behind the squads, saying they killed 1,700 people. But other times he denied any involvement.

Duterte also made international headlines for constant use of vulgar language, including on one occasion branding the pope a “son of a whore”.

After scorching criticism in the mainly Catholic nation, Duterte sent a letter of apology to Pope Francis.

Agence France-Presse and the Associated Press contributed to this report

 

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