Rodrigo Duterte, a self-declared socialist, secured his presidency on May 9th with an overwhelming 14.8 million votes, polling almost twice as many as the closest rivals. Nicknamed “the punisher” during his campaign, Duterte is perhaps best known for his plans to allow police to fatally shoot criminals and to reimpose the death penalty, a punishment that was suspended due to strong opposition from the Catholic Church. He has also targeted the current government with tactics that have been called “strikingly similar”to Donald Trump’s.
In his campaign, Duterte repeatedly made outrageous statements, including a joke about rape and murder, which he later defended as a slur directed at the Pope, referring to him as a “son of a whore.” However, the most shocking of all was his vow to kill a hundred thousand criminals and “dump them in Manila bay” to deter future criminals. At the final campaign rally before the election, he told the crowd, “If I make it to the presidential palace, I will do just what I did as mayor,” and threatened to massacre criminals in the country.
Mr. Aquino, the current president of Philippine warned that Duterte’s election could mean a return to dictatorship. His fears are not unfounded. According to the Human Right’s Watch, a death squad under the control of Duterte has killed hundreds of street children, petty criminals and drug dealers during his 22 year rule as the mayor of Davao. Worst of all, Duterte even publicly admitted his direct links to the Davao death squad in a televised show, branding these extrajudicial killings as his and including them on his platform.
Given the bleak outlook of Philippine’s economy and its severe wealth disparity, it is perhaps understandable that this presidential candidate was elected for his radical reforms. Nevertheless, the president’s actions will directly threaten the health of Philippine’s young democracy.