Rodrigo Duterte, Philippines’ president-elect, has pledged to introduce executions by hanging and to order military snipers to kill suspected criminals as part of a law-and-order crackdown.
In his first press conference since winning the May 9 elections, the mayor of southern Davao city said late on Sunday that security forces would be given “shoot-to-kill” orders and that citizens would learn to fear the law.
“I expect you to obey the laws so there will be no chaos. I will hit hard on drugs and I promise them [criminals] hell,” Duterte said as he outlined his vision for the nation.
Duterte, 71, who will be sworn in on June 30, also promised to roll out Davao law-and-order measures on a nationwide basis, including a 2am 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 vision would be to bring back the death penalty, which was abolished under President Gloria Arroyo in 2006.
“What I will do is urge Congress to restore [the] death penalty by hanging,” he said.
Duterte said that he wanted capital punishment reintroduced for a wide range of crimes, particularly drugs, but also rape, murder and robbery.
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.
The centrepiece of Duterte’s successful election campaign strategy was a pledge to end crime within three to six months of being elected.
Duterte pledged during the campaign to kill tens of thousands criminals, angering his critics but impressing tens of millions of Filipinos fed up with crime and corruption.
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.
Duterte said Sunday his “shoot-to-kill” orders would be given for those involved in organised crime 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. You heard that? Shoot to kill for every organised crime,” he said.
Duterte said the military as well as the police would be used in his war on crime.
“I need the military to pitch. I need military officers who are sharp-shooters and snipers. It’s true. If you [the 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”.
Duterte added that the Abu Sayyaf group would face a “reckoning” if it does not stop their terrorist activities.
“I am now asking them to stop it,” he said. “You are destroying the image of the country, not only the image of the country, but the economy.”
Earlier this month, Abu Sayyaf fighters – whose leaders have sworn allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group – threatened to kill Canadian Robert Hall, Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstand and Filipina Marites Flor if ransoms are not paid for their freedom.
In April, the group beheaded a Canadian man, John Ridsdel, after a ransom deadline passed.
Dubbed as The Punisher, 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 nations 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 that they killed 1,700 people. But other times he denied any involvement.
Duterte also made international headlines for constant use of vulgar language, not even sparing Pope Francis, the head of the Catholic Church.
After fierce criticism in the mainly Catholic nation, Duterte sent a letter of apology to Francis.
He also said that he would visit the Vatican to make a personal apology, but on Sunday reneged on that pledge.
“No more. That’s enough,” Duterte said when asked about the planned trip, pointing out that he had already sent the letter.
He said the trip “could be an exercise in duplicity”, as he complained that some Church leaders in the Philippines indicated that he may not have been forgiven.
Duterte was raised a Catholic.
But among his closest advisers is Apollo Quiboloy, leader of the Davao-based Kingdom of Jesus Christ religious group who calls himself “the Appointed Son of God”.