Philippine President-Elect Rodrigo Duterte Pledges Restore the Death Penalty
DAVAO CITY – President-elect Rodrigo Duterte, said Monday he would curb various social freedoms to impose more order on this often unruly nation, in his first comments to reporters since last week’s election.
Having been elected a week ago on a tough law-and-order platform, Mr. Duterte told reporters in his home city of Davao that he was declaring a Singapore-style war on antisocial behavior, promising to ban smoking and drinking alcohol in public places, and crack down on speeding and drunken driving.
He also pledged to restore the death penalty, which was suspended in 2006, and said he would issue instructions allowing police to shoot on sight suspects involved in organized crime.
Parents who allow their children out after a 10 p.m. curfew will be prosecuted for “negligence” and taxi drivers will be compelled to carry change to stamp out the common practice of overcharging passengers, Mr. Duterte said. He also promised to get tough on noise pollution so that people could get a good night’s sleep.
“These are the things I want to correct right at the beginning,” said Mr. Duterte, who will take office on June 30 after Congress ratifies the election results.
Filipinos elected Mr. Duterte by a large margin, according to unofficial results, handing the 71-year-old a single, six-year term.
While recognizing that some of his objectives, such as shifting the country to a federal system, would take years, he said improving everyday behavior could happen within weeks. Ridding the country of criminals and drug dealers should take less than six months, he said.
“Those who destroy the lives of our children will be destroyed; those who kill our country will be killed—simple as that,” he said, while pledging to restore the death penalty for serious crimes. Local neighborhoods will have armed security teams to maintain order, he said.
Mr. Duterte has already imposed many of his suggested restrictions on Davao, which he has run for three decades as mayor. Though taxi drivers still grumble about the 60 kilometer-an-hour (37-mile-an-hour) speed limit, many citizens in this city of roughly 1.5 million people seem comfortable enough with Mr. Duterte’s rules.
The presumptive president-elect also promised to improve his own behavior, having been heavily criticized during the election campaign for making tasteless jokes and swearing profusely. “I have to get used to being the top honcho,” he said.
Mr. Duterte was due to meet the Chinese, Israeli and Japanese ambassadors Monday, while continuing talks with prospective cabinet members as he assembles his executive team.
On Monday, he invited members of the Communist Party of the Philippines to apply for government posts, a show of faith he said would help end the decades-old Communist insurgency ahead of proposed peace talks.
He also promised efficiency in government and an end to the corrupt practice of charging for the timely delivery of official permits, saying he would institute a 72-hour limit for the processing of any official papers. “People are made to wait [for permits] until they die—this has to change,” he said.
By Trefor Moss at Trefor.Moss@wsj.com
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