Dubbed ‘the punisher’, the controversial politician’s tough stance on crime and corruption is winning hearts and minds.
The Philippines’ President-elect Rodrigo Duterte has encouraged the public to go after drug dealers, urging citizens with guns to shoot and kill them.
In a nationally televised speech late on Saturday, Duterte, who will be sworn in on June 30, told a huge crowd in the southern city of Davao that he will offer huge bounties to those who turn in drug lords – dead or alive.
“Please feel free to call us, the police, or do it yourself if you have the gun – you have my support,” Duterte said.
If a drug dealer resists arrest or refuses to be brought to a police station and threatens a citizen with a gun or a knife, “you can kill him”, Duterte said.
“Shoot him and I’ll give you a medal.”
He also said that drug addicts could not be rehabilitated and warned, “If you are involved in drugs, I will kill you. You son of a whore, I will really kill you.”
Duterte, who won the May 9 vote, based his successful election campaign strategy on a pledge to end crime within three to six months of being elected.
Speaking on Saturday, he reiterated that his anti-crime campaign would be “a bloody war” and would large sums of money for slain drug lords.
“I will pay, for a drug lord: five million [pesos] ($107,000) if he is dead. If he is alive, only 4.999 million,” he laughed.
He did not say how a private citizen could identify suspects.
The 71-year-old has been previously 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 nations safest.
Human rights watchdogs have expressed alarm that Duterte’s anti-crime drive may lead to widespread rights violations.
Duterte and other Filipino officials have previously brushed aside warnings from human rights groups about the dangers of “vigilante justice”.