Rodrigo Duterte, the new President of the Philippines, has kept his only real election promise, with 30 drug dealers having been killed in his first four days in office, according to Newsweek. Nicknamed The Punisher for his methods for dealing with criminals, Duterte pledged to bring back the death penalty shortly after the election, choosing hanging rather than firing squads because he did not want to waste bullets, and he feels it is more humane than shooting. He also plans to institute a “shoot to kill” policy for the security forces in the country.
— Kenneth Roth (@KenRoth) July 5, 2016
Duterte also publicly named five police generals who he accused of being involved in the illegal drug trade in the country and said that they had been protecting drug syndicates. Irish Times reported that during the speech, Duterte stated that he and he alone would be responsible for the consequences of fighting the drug war and that he would have no remorse.
“It’s going to be a dirty fight, it’s going to be a bloody fight. I am not apologising for it. As public authority, mine and mine alone, I assume full legal responsibility for it.”
While human rights organizations are appalled at Rodrigo Duterte’s methods, according to Time Magazine, the election turnout was at an incredible 81 percent with him winning a convincing percentage of the votes. His win was despite making a joke that he should have been the first person to gang rape an Australian missionary, despite calling his daughter a “drama queen” for stating that she had been raped, and despite stating he would kill his own children if he found out they were involved in the drug trade.
Rappler reported that crime in the Philippine’s has been on the rise, with violent crimes such as murder, robbery, rape, and carnapping experiencing a 300 percent increase between 2012 to 2014. In 2013, only 28.56 percent of crimes were solved, compared to 89.86 percent in 2004. The most commonly used drug in the country is methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu), with 89 percent of the drug seizures that occurred in 2014 involving the drug. With numbers this high, many people from villages that have been the most affected by the drug problem were in favor of Rodrigo Duterte’s tough stance on crime.
During the nightly raids that have been occurring since Rodrigo Duterte was sworn in as President on June 30, 2016, for a six-year term, police also claim to have seized more than $20 million worth of narcotics, in addition to the killing of 30 drug dealers. In one speech Duterte encouraged people to go ahead and kill the drug dealers themselves because having their parents do it was too painful. According to the International Business Times, he has also offered a reward to people if they shoot and kill a drug dealer.
Duterte also came under fire after comments regarding the number of journalists that have been killed in the Philippines. Since 1986, the International Business Times reports that approximately 175 journalists have been killed, making it one of the most dangerous places in the world for people in the news industry. Duterte spoke to journalists shortly after his election, claiming that the journalists that have died were corrupt, and he also made the following threat.
“Most of your are clean, but do not ever say all journalists are clean. Just because you are a journalist, you are not exempted from assassination if you are a son of a b—h.”
After threatening journalists, Filipino president-elect Rodrigo Duterte has banned them from his inauguration. https://t.co/OD17X6B6LQ
— Foreign Policy (@ForeignPolicy) June 28, 2016
After his election, the President banned independent media from attending his swearing in ceremony. In order to maintain control over the event, Duterte would only allow the ceremony to be broadcast by a state-run television station and radio station, according to Foreign Policy. He has promised to boycott the media and during one press conference he even cut off a female reporter mid-sentence and catcalled her, followed by serenading her. Duterte maintained such a tight hold on the swearing in that he didn’t even allow the Vice-President Elect Leni Robredo to attend.
During his campaign, one of the only policy’s that Rodrigo Duterte actually outlined, was a promise to eradicate crime within six months of taking office. While that pledge won him the support of the people, human’s rights groups and churches have come out against the lack of due process happening since Duterte won. As one might expect, Duterte was undeterred by the criticism stating that people that oppose the death penalty are “stupid.”
Incoming Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte on Monday hit out at “stupid” human rights campaigners, as he d… https://t.co/qDdDqRLHdY
— ShinraTensei (@24tebs) June 27, 2016
It does not appear that Rodrigo Duterte will suddenly change his mind and backtrack on his pledge to wipe out crime. In fact, he appears to be more determined than ever. There is no doubt that the body count will continue to rise in the Philippines and with six years left in his term as President, the numbers could be staggering.
[Photo by Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images]