Rodrigo Duterte.jpg
Photograph: EPA/FRANCIS R. MALASIG

The Philippines’ incoming president on Monday urged Congress to restore the death penalty to help eradicate crime, as he vowed to order police to kill suspected criminals who violently resist arrest.

Rodrigo Duterte, the tough-talking mayor of the southern city of Davao, said he would be able to reduce criminality in six months as he promised if capital punishment was allowed in the country.

“I will plead to Congress to restore the death penalty,” he told reporters in his first press conference after winning the May 9 elections. “I need it to combat crimes and to deter crimes.”

Duterte said he expects many criticisms for his stand and methods, but stressed he was willing to lose his life and the presidency to be able to save the future generation.

“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,” the 71-year-old mayor added.

“Do not destroy my country because I will kill you,” he said. “I will kill you, no middle ground.”

Duterte said he favours execution by hanging because it’s less cruel than firing squad and electrocution.

“It’s just like switching off a light,” he said of hanging. “Once the spine is cut, that’s the end of it."

The convict "does not feel anything. Firing squad is more expensive because we will use bullets and it’s more cruel.”

Electrocution is also expensive because the government would have to pay for the power used in the killing, he added. “I’m going to kill a bad person and you still want me to spend money?” 

The death penalty was abolished in 2006 in the Philippines, Asia’s largest predominantly Catholic country.

According to an unofficial quick count of ballots for the presidential election, Duterte received nearly 39 per cent of the votes in the May 9 polls. All of his rivals have already conceded defeat.

The national Congress will convene later in the month to officially tally the votes for president and vice president before formally proclaiming Duterte as the winner. He is scheduled to be sworn in on June 30.

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