Philippines President, Duterte vows to revive death penalty for the country

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte gestures as he delivers his speech during a military parade at the military headquarters in Manila on July 1, 2016. (Photo credit - TED ALJIBE/AFP)

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte have vowed to wipe out drug traffickers by reinstating the death penalty in country and even urged ordinary Filipinos to kill drug addicts when he took his oath to be the next president of Philippines on Thursday (30 June).

The newly elected president of Phillipine was visiting a slum at Manila after he took the vow of presidency when he reportedly said in front of a crowd of about 500 people, “These sons of whores are destroying our children. I warn you, don’t go into that, even if you’re a policeman, because I will really kill you. If you know of any addicts, go ahead and kill them yourself as getting their parents to do it would be too painful.”

Duterte also reportedly said, as his favorite campaign refrain, that making up a funeral parlor is going to be a good business during his presidential time. “I assure you you won’t go bankrupt. If your business slows I will tell the police, ‘Do it faster to help the people earn money,” he said.

It has been said that his strong attitude towards criminals in this country led to his victory in the presidency election which was held on 9 May. He beat 6 other competitors and gained more than 6 millions voters in the election.

In his press conference in Davao on 16 May, Duterte vowed to restore death penalty and said that he will urged the Congress to revive the death penalty by hanging for drug pushers, rapists and kidnappers. Death penalty was abolished in 2006 under the term of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroym, following fierce opposition from the Catholic Church, the religion of 80 percent of Filipinos.

“Heinous crimes committed with unlicensed firearms must be (penalized with) death. Rape plus death of victim must be death penalty,” he said. “Kidnapping with ransom, then you killed (the victim), must be death penalty.”

“Robbery with homicide with rape, double the hanging. After the first, there will be another ceremony for the second,” Duterte said.

He also said he would give security forces “shoot-to-kill” orders, “If you resist, show violent resistance, my order to police (will be) to shoot to kill. Shoot to kill for organized crime. You heard that? Shoot to kill for every organized crime.”

According to the Philippine Head of the Police Department, Wilber Mayor, since the winning of Durtente more than 40 people of drug dealers suspects were killed. While 4 months before his inauguration, only 39 people were shot by the police.

Philippines media reported that all the suspects were shot dead while resisting arrest by the police.

Duterte sat as a mayor of Davao for 22 years. Today, Davao City is called “the safest city in Southeast Asia,” and Duterte’s perceived success in fighting crime there was central to his presidential campaign.

As mentioned by Andy de Jong from Indymedia, Duterte’s “tough stance on crime” is questionable as a death squad nicknamed the Davao Death Squad or DDS murdered hundreds of people under his mayorship and became a fixture of the city. The DDS is made up of former New People’s Army (NPA) fighters and local toughs, operating under the protection and with the cooperation of local authorities.

According to a Human Rights Watch report, “local activists say death-squad killings of alleged drug dealers, petty criminals, and street children in Davao City started sometime in the mid-1990s.”

Duterte rebutted the existence of DDS, but he was very explicit about the supports he made towards the extrajudicial killing of suspected criminals. He even bragged himself for the number of people he has supposedly killed himself.

The victims of the death-squad killings were reported by the Coalition Against Summary Execution (CASE)’s. It documented that 814 people were killed in Davao city between 1998 and early 2009. The victims were members of urban poor. They were said to be involved in trifling street crimes. Mostly drug use, small-scale drug dealing, or cell phone theft.

Duterte is enjoying national popularity as a “crime-buster”. According to a poll by Social Weather Stations, the wealthier layers of populations voted for him in hope that he would abolish street crime. While many working-class Filipinos voted for him because they believed that the crimes in Philippine were getting out of control. This impression was made by the media’s sensational focus only on particularly horrible cases.

Even though the killings were reign, he did not lose support from his voters. Instead, many of the Philippines believe that this system would be the solution to the problem of crime in the country and support the use of police violence. Most of the votes are ignoring the fact that Davao’s city safety is mostly fictional,  based on manipulated statistics and without consideration of the city’s most vulnerable residents.

Voters are said to be willing to accept the increasing number of the state’s violence, in hope that Duterte will repeat his reported success on a national scale.

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