During a speech Monday, Philippines President-elect Rodrigo Duterte — who has sworn off interviews with the press — reiterated his support for capital punishment as a retaliatory measure and not a deterrent, disparaging human rights activists and opponents of the death penalty as “stupid.”
“I believe in retribution. Why? You should pay. When you kill someone, rape, you should die,” Duterte said in a speech Monday in Davao City, where he was mayor for two decades before winning the presidency this year and has been succeeded by his daughter, Sara Duterte. “These human rights (groups), congressmen, how stupid you are,” he added, promising to restore the death penalty. “He promised that tens of thousands of people would die, with security forces being given shoot to kill orders,” Agence France-Presse notes.
“When they describe or characterise a human rights violator, these fools make it appear that the people you kill are saints, as if they are pitiful or innocent,” he said of human rights activists and United Nations officials who have publicly reprimanded Duterte for his repeated promises to kill as many violent criminals as possible and offer police who perform extrajudicial killings legal protection.
Duterte won the presidency by a wide margin in early May, campaigning on his record as mayor. Davao City remains one of the few safe places on the southern island of Mindanao, home to the nation’s largest Muslim population and jihadist gangs like Abu Sayyaf and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Following his victory, he has repeatedly vowed to increase the number of drug suspects killed by law enforcement.
On Saturday, Duterte vowed to kill not only drug traffickers, but drug addicts. “If I couldn’t convince you to stop, I’ll have you killed… if you’re into drugs, I’m very sorry. I’ll have to apologize to your family because you’ll surely get killed.” he said in a speech, adding, “the problem is once you’re addicted to shabu [methamphetamine], rehabilitation is no longer an option.” The Philippines website Rappler notes that at least 54 drug suspects have been killed since Duterte won the presidential election.
In addition to insisting on the return of capital punishment, Duterte has asserted that he prefers hanging to more expensive forms of execution. “I’m asking for re-imposition of death penalty so that I can hang them,” he said last week, arguing that the influence of drugs “reduced human beings into bestial state [sic].”
He also reiterated in different remarks last week that he neither believes that capital punishment deters criminals, nor does he believe deterrence is a relevant issue in reviving the practice. “Death penalty to me is the retribution. It makes you pay for what you did,” he stated clearly.
In the same speech, to police, he said, “If you kill 1,000, tell them it was ordered by Duterte. Period. I will deal with everybody.”
In response to Duterte’s repeated calls for the execution of drug criminals, leading drug traffickers have placed a million-dollar bounty on Duterte himself. He has responded by offering government-sanctioned bounties available to civilians if they killed the drug lords placing a bounty on his head. “If he (drug lord) puts P50 million for my life, I will put P60 million. Kill him. No questions asked. We can match each other’s price,” Duterte said last week.
Duterte also bizarrely stated on Monday that he would not run for president again if he knew that he would win. “You know, if I can go back in time, I would decide not to run for president. Honestly, swear to God. If this is just a bad dream, I hope it is,” he said Monday, “during his final flag ceremony as mayor of Davao City.” He added a protest that his salary is not enough to maintain his common-law wife and pay his ex-wife alimony.
While Duterte has given speeches this month, he has not entertained questions from the media sine early June. “I won’t grant interviews. Sorry. It’s really a boycott,” he announced, adding the boycott would lift when his six-year term as president was over.
Duterte will be inaugurated into office on Thursday, June 30.