A Promise to Bring Back Capital Punishment in the Philippines

In his first news conference since winning the presidential election, Rodrigo Duterte said he’d bring back the death penalty.

President-elect Rodrigo Duterte says he won't hold back. (Erik de Castro / Reuters)

Rodrigo Duterte, in his first news conference as Philippines’ president-elect, vowed to give police the power to “shoot-to-kill criminals” and bring back the death penalty.

Duterte, the longtime mayor of Davao, handily won this month’s election on a law-and-order platform. He assumes office at the end of next month.

The Guardian reported that some of his other promises were:

Duterte also vowed to introduce a 2am curfew on drinking in public places, and ban children from walking on the streets alone late at night.

If children were picked up on the streets, their parents would be arrested and thrown into jail for “abandonment”, he said.

Duterte said he wanted capital punishment – which was abolished in 2006 under then-president Gloria Arroyo – to be reintroduced for a wide range of crimes, particularly drugs, but also rape, murder and robbery.

He added 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.

Duterte is controversial both inside and out of the Philippines. He spent more than two decades as Davao’s mayor, where he was accused of running death squads. His defenders called them volunteer “peacekeepers,” who cleaned up the city.

In his campaign for presidency, Duterte made jokes about gang rape, and said he planned to fill Manila Bay with the bodies of so many criminals that fish would grow fat from eating their flesh.

To would-be lawbreakers, Duterte’s warning on Monday:

Do not destroy my country because I will kill you. I will kill you. No middle ground. As long as the requirements of the law are there, if you try to evade arrest, refuse arrest... and you put up a good fight or resist violently, I will say: Kill them.