How far will Philippines president-elect Duterte take his tough judicial stance? (+video)
Rodrigo Dutarte says he will implement capital punishment for serious infractions and support extrajudicial killings by law enforcement.
Newly elected Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte looks to make good on his promise to get tough on lawbreakers after he officially assumes office next month, following a successful campaign focused on political corruption and crime.
President-elect Mr. Duterte, who won the island republic's presidential election earlier this month, first made a name for himself as a crime-fighting civil servant of Davao City, one of the most populous urban centers in the nation. Duterte was mayor of Davao over seven terms and a total of 22 years since 1988, broken up by brief stints as a congressman and vice mayor.
His apparent support of capital punishment and frequent violent threats to achieve a goal of crime reduction, however, have been a key point of criticism during his time in office and on the road to the presidency. "The only reason there is peace and order in Davao is because of me," Duterte told Time in 2002, a claim backed by a lowered crime rate – and a public record of apparent human rights abuses.
"New President should break cycle of human rights violations, not compound them," Amnesty International said in a release last week, pushing for improvements under his impending regime and an end to the alleged offenses carried out during his time as mayor.
Philippine Sen. Rodolfo Biazon told Time that under Duterte, stopping crime in Davao was "not about following the law," but "about who's willing to go further."
At various points in his campaign, Duterte has alluded to times when he says he personally carried out extrajudicial killings, and Al Jazeera reported him claiming responsibility for 1,700 summary executions carried out by the vigilante Davao Death Squad. Duterte has been linked to the activities of that group, and has frequently threatened criminals' lives.
"I dare you to come over here so that I can finish you off," he said on television in 2003, addressing criminals. "Davao City will be a murder capital for you."
But his tough judicial stance is contrasted by his sometimes progressive social views, religious tolerance, humble lifestyle, and his generosity and support for the poor of his nation. Time reported his frequent financial assistance for constituents in need, as well as a party lineup in an early-2000s election consisting of "a Christian, a Muslim, a gay man and a disabled candidate."
Now, with his path to national leadership cemented, Duterte still appears to be in favor of a strong anti-crime measures, and of reinstating capital punishment for severe transgressions such as rape, trafficking, and murder, within the bounds of law or without.
"What I would do is to urge Congress to restore the death penalty by hanging," he said Sunday, according to CNN Philippines. He also said that if criminals resist arrest "my order to the police or the military is to shoot-to-kill."
His focus on maintaining order extends to social vices, as well; Duterte has pledged to ban public drinking and smoking, and crack down on speeding and drunk driving.
"These are the things I want to correct right at the beginning," he said, according to The Wall Street Journal.
"Those who destroy the lives of our children will be destroyed; those who kill our country will be killed. Simple as that, no apologies, no excuses," he said, according to The Philippine Star. He added that those convicted of multiple crimes should be hanged twice.
Duterte's crime policies extend to the government, where he hopes to weed out corruption in the months after his inauguration, and further support "the two-thirds of the population that are poor," as former agricultural secretary and Duterte partner Carlos Dominguez told the Associated Press.