Philippines president-elect Duterte vows to bring back the death penalty

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Philippines President-elect Rodrigo Duterte, who has vowed to suppress crime in just half a year, will give security forces permission to “shoot-to-kill” and will call on congress to reinstate capital punishment in the Southeast Asian country.

“What I will do is to urge Congress to restore death penalty by hanging,” said Duterte, speaking at his first press conference after being declared the presumptive winner of the May 9 elections. He provided no further details about his death penalty plans.

Duterte added that permission to shoot to kill would be given to the country’s security forces when dealing with organized crime figures or people who violently resist arrest. Military sharp shooters will be enlisted to help kill criminals, he said.

Duterte had said previously that he plans to give himself and members of the security forces immunity from prosecution for when he leaves office.

Duterte, who served seven terms as mayor of Davao city, has been dubbed “The Punisher” and “The Dirty Harry of Davao” for his reputation as a crime-crushing mayor. Duterte helped transform Davao – a city once known as the murder capital of the Philippines – to become one of the safest cities in Southeast Asia.

During his election campaign, Duterte vowed to kill tens of thousands of criminals, pledging to suppress crime and corruption within three to six months of taking office through the deployment of 3,000 police officers, among other measures.

“We have a society now where obedience to the law is really a choice, an option only,” he during a speech in April, as quoted by AFP. “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’.”

In 1987, the Philippines became the first Asian country in modern history to abolish the death penalty for all crimes, but it was reintroduced in late 1993 for 46 offenses. Executions resumed in 1999 after a period of 23 years but then-President Joseph Estrada announced a moratorium on executions in 2000, leading to the world’s largest commutation of death sentences by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in April 2006.

In early 2014, Philippine lawmakers rejected a proposal that would have reinstated the death penalty after a series of high-profile crimes. Then-President Benigno Aquino III did not support the bill, expressing concern that a person sentenced to death may not always be able to prove his or her innocence due to imperfections in the justice system.

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