‘Death Squad Mayor’ Comes to Power as President of the Philippines

Philippine presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte gestures as he answers questions from reporters at the University of the Philippines in suburban Quezon city, north of Manila, Philippines, Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016. Five candidates are running for President in the coming elections this May. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
AP Photo/Aaron Favila

The Philippines is expected to go through a monumental change now that the President-elect Rodrigo Duterte will assume the office of president on June 30th.

Duterte gain notoriety as the hard crime-fighting, drug-stopping, Mayor of Davao. He served for more than 22 years since 1988, becoming the city’s longest-serving mayor.

“Mr Duterte’s record as the crime-crushing mayor of the southern city of Davao, once notorious for its lawlessness, has earned him the moniker The Punisher,” reports BBC.

Although crime stopped during this term, his approach has been deemed controversial.

Human rights groups have said Death Squads made up of police, hired assassins, and ex-communist rebels roamed the street and killed “more than 1,000 people” accused of crimes, including “children and petty criminals,” reports Al Jazeera.

Duterte would admit his involvement in such practices at times during his campaign but would deny any involvement at other times.

Human Rights Watch dubbed Duterte the “death squad mayor” for his coercive tactics in Davao.

This week, during his first appearance since winning the May 9th election, Duterte reiterated his promise to fight crime at all costs.

“The centerpiece of Duterte’s successful election campaign strategy was a pledge to end crime within three to six months of being elected,” notes Al Jazeera. “Duterte pledged during the campaign to kill tens of thousands of criminals, angering his critics but impressing tens of millions of Filipinos fed up with crime and corruption.”

Al Jazeera quoted Duterte as saying, “on one occasion that 100,000 people would die, and so many bodies would be dumped in Manila Bay that the fish would grow fat from feeding on them.”

He is expected to be sworn into office on June 30 for a term of six years.

One of the most controversial crime-fighting measures would be to bring back the nation’s death penalty, which was abolished in 2006.

“What I will do is urge Congress to restore death penalty by hanging,” Duterte told reporters on Monday, adding, that individuals found guilty of killing, robbery, and rape should receive “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, the New York Times reports.

Another component of Duterte’s plan to impose more order on the Philippines is granting security forces shoot-to-kill powers for criminals who resist arrest or are involved in organized crime.

He told reporters he would begin a military crackdown against the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL)-linked Abu Sayyaf jihadists, based in the Philippines, known for their kidnappings, beheadings, bombings, and extortion rackets.

“If you resist, show violent resistance, my order to police (will be) to shoot to kill. Shoot to kill for organized crime. You heard that? Shoot to kill for every organized crime,” he is quoted by the Agence France-Presse (AFP) as saying.

The 71-year-old Duterte also plans to impose a ban on smoking, drinking, and staying out late, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Duterte also said he plans to “offer cabinet posts to communist rebels and move to amend the Constitution to give more power to the provinces,” adds the New York Times.

The presumptive president is not afraid of controversy.

“He vowed to give himself and members of the security forces immunity from prosecution after leaving office, saying: ‘Pardon given to Rodrigo Duterte for the crime of multiple murder, signed Rodrigo Duterte,’” reports BBC.

In April, Duterte vowed to “sever” ties with long-time Philippine ally the United States.

“The threat comes at a times of high tensions in the South China Sea, where the U.S. is aiding the Philippines in keeping China form usurping much of its territory,” reports Breitbart News.

During the recent press conference, the president-elect is “also quoted as saying that he wanted to forge closer relations with China, and that he was open to direct talks over territorial disputes in the South China Sea,” reports BBC.

China and the United States are at odds over Beijing’s territorial claims in the South China Sea. The U.S. also opposes a series of artificial islands that China has built in the region and is outfitting with military supplies.

Breitbart News’s Jennifer Lawrence contributed to this report.


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