Philippines' Duterte vows hangings in war on crime

2016-05-16 14:06
Philippines' President-elect Rodrigo Duterte. (Ted Aljibe, AFP)

Philippines' President-elect Rodrigo Duterte. (Ted Aljibe, AFP)

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Davao – Philippine president-elect Rodrigo Duterte vowed on Monday to introduce executions by hanging as part of a ruthless law-and-order crackdown that would also include ordering military snipers to kill suspected criminals.

In back-to-back press conferences since his landslide victory in May 9 elections, the tough-talking mayor of southern Davao city said security forces would be given "shoot-to-kill" orders and that citizens would learn to fear the law.

"Those who destroy the lives of our children will be destroyed," Duterte said in wide-ranging comments to reporters in Davao on Monday afternoon as he outlined on his war on crime once he is sworn into office on June 30.

"Those who kill my country will be killed. Simple as that. No middle ground. No apologies. No excuses."

Duterte also vowed to roll out Davao law-and-order measures on a nationwide basis, including a 02:00 curfew on drinking in public places and a ban on children walking on the streets alone late at night. Smoking in restaurants and hotels will also be banned.

Duterte said a central part of his war on crime would be to bring back the death penalty, which was abolished in 2006 under then-president Gloria Arroyo.

Duterte said he would ask Congress to reintroduce capital punishment for a wide range of crimes, including drug trafficking, rape, murder, robbery and kidnapping-for-ransom.

He said 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.

For people convicted of two major crimes, Duterte said he wanted them hanged twice.

"After you are hanged first, there will be another ceremony for the second time until the head is completely severed from the body. I like that because I am mad," he said.

Shoot to kill

The centrepiece of Duterte's stunningly successful election campaign was a pledge to end crime within three to six months of being elected.

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 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.

In an initial press conference late Sunday, Duterte said his "shoot-to-kill" orders would be given for those involved in organised criminals or who resisted arrest.

"If you resist, show violent resistance, my order to police [will be] to shoot to kill. Shoot to kill for organised crime," he said.

Duterte said the military as well as the police would be used in his war on crime.

"I need military officers who are sharp-shooters and snipers. It's true. If you (criminals) fight, I will have a sniper shoot you," he said.

On his ban on children walking alone late at night, Duterte warned the parents of repeat offenders would be arrested and thrown into jail for "abandonment".

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

However his preferred successor, Mar Roxas, an establishment politician who promised to continue Aquino's slow but steady macroeconomic reforms, ended in a distant second place.

Death squad fears

Duterte has been accused of running vigilante death squads during his more than two decades as mayor of Davao, a city of about two million people that he says he has turned into one of the nation’s safest.

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 and said he would visit the Vatican to make a personal apology, but on Sunday reneged on that pledge.

Read more on:    rodrigo duterte  |  philippines

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