Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday vowed to stick to the law in fighting crime and corruption in the country, to dispel fears that his unorthodox methods verge on the illegal.

The 71-year-old leader urged the public to join him to help rebuild trust in the government and ensure that Filipinos have better, safer and healthier lives.

“I know that there are those who do not approve of my method in fighting criminality,” he said in a speech after being sworn in as the new president of the country of more than 100 million people.

“They say that my methods are unorthodox and verge on the illegal,” he added.

Duterte, formerly a state prosecutor and mayor of the southern city of Davao, said he has seen how crime, especially illegal drugs, and corruption have destroyed lives and pushed people further into poverty.

He urged Congress, the Commission on Human Rights and other critics to assess his campaign from the perspective of those who were victimised by crime and corruption, and to allow him to do his job.

“As a lawyer and former prosecutor, I know the limits of the power and authority of the president. I know what is legal and what is not. My adherence to due process and the rule of law is uncompromising.”

“You mind your work. I will mind mine,” he added.

Duterte, the first president to come from the conflict-hit southern region of Mindanao, held a cabinet meeting after his oath-taking and ordered government agencies to cut red tape in services to the public.

“I don’t want to see any Filipino lining up when dealing with government agencies,” he said, adding that government officials should not be given special treatment.

He announced plans to open a 24/7 hotline for the public to submit complaints to him directly. “They can report to me any complaint and there will be a manager who will redirect the complaints to the appropriate offices.”

Duterte, who won the elections in May with over 39 per cent of the votes, was the second president after late dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986 to take his oath within the sprawling compound of the Malacanang Palace.

The event was closed to the public, a break from tradition where presidential inaugurations are usually witnessed by tens of thousands of Filipinos. His aides said the smaller affair was aimed at cutting costs. 

Outside Malacanang, more than 2,000 activists and supporters gathered holding banners and calling for land reform, higher wages and other issues.

Leaders of activist groups were later invited by Duterte inside Malacanang for talks, officials said.

Duterte captured the public’s support despite his foul language and boorish style, often peppering his speeches with expletives that shocked the international community.

He has promised to end the domination of “Imperial Manila,” the traditional centre of power in the Philippines, by shifting to a federal form of government from the current presidential system.

Duterte has also vowed to reimpose the death penalty, kill all criminals and implement an aggressive family planning programme that could see him clashing with the influential church in the predominantly Catholic country.

Latest news

Syrian opposition rules out future role for President al-Assad

The Syrian opposition said Friday it would not accept any role for President Bashar al-Assad in the future of the war-torn country, reacting to a recent US shift saying that removing al-Assad is no longer a priority for Washington.

Russian Army integrates breakaway forces of Georgian province

Parts of the small fighting forces of the Georgian breakaway province of South Ossetia have been placed under Russian military control, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday.

Czech Republic's Pilsner Urquell beer is now Japanese

Japanese brewing company Asahi completed its takeover of the Czech brewery Pilsner Urquell on Friday, Asahi said in a statement.

Judge approves 25-million-dollar settlement of Trump University case

A US district judge on Friday approved a 25-million-dollar settlement of lawsuits and state fraud allegations against Trump University, the US president's now-defunct business venture.

Former Thai premier Thaksin to junta on reconciliation: 'Cut me out'

Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Friday announced that he is not interested in the junta-led reconciliation process, three days after the junta handed him a half-a-billion-dollar tax bill for his past business deal.

Dalic: We welcome possible deal between Agrokor and banks

The government welcomes the possibility of an agreement being concluded between the Agrokor food company and creditor banks, and the bill on vitally important companies is not a fallback plan but the result of the government's care for the overall economic and financial stability of Croatia, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Martina Dalic told a press conference in Zagreb on Friday.

Croatia, China sign action plan for cooperation in agriculture

The Croatian and Chinese ministries of agriculture on Friday signed an action plan for cooperation in the field of agriculture for the period 2017-2018, the Croatian ministry said in a statement.

ZSE indices up, Agrokor shares in focus of investor interest

The Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) indices on Friday rose by more than 1.8%, with stocks of the Agrokor food and retail concern being in the focus of investor interest again.

Berlin police defend handling of Berlin market attacker

Berlin police defended themselves on Friday against accusations that they stopped surveillance on Berlin Christmas market attacker despite knowing in June 2016 he was dangerous.

Croatia, creditors tailor emergency measures to save tottering giant

Croatia's tottering retail and food giant Agrokor reached an agreement with its creditors, putting its debts standby and allowing it to continue working during emergency restructuring, the Croatian branch of Austria's Erste Bank said Friday.

Agrokor's creditors say standstill agreement to go into force today

A standstill agreement regarding the Agrokor concern's existing financial obligations to banks will take effect on Friday, additional capital will be injected into the concern in the coming days and the concern will be actively restructured, which includes a change of its management, it was said on Friday after a meeting between Agrokor's suppliers and creditor banks.

Palestinians, UN slam Israel's new settlement plan

Palestinians, Israeli activists and the UN lambasted the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, a day after it gave the go-ahead for the first new West Bank settlement in a quarter of a century.

South Sudan rebels release three abducted foreign oil workers

South Sudanese rebels have released three foreign engineers they abducted in early March in the oil-rich Upper Nile region, Foreign Affairs Ministry official Mawein Makol Arik said on Friday.

Turkish opposition: Imprisoned party chief has gone on hunger strike

The head of Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition party has launched a hunger strike from prison.

European leagues threaten Champions League schedule clashes

The European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) on Friday threatened schedule clashes on Champions League matchdays in an ongoing dispute with the governing body UEFA.

Danish court revokes citizenship of IS volunteer

A Danish appellate court on Friday stripped a man of his Danish citizenship for volunteering to fight for the extremist Islamic State in Syria.

Banks and Agrokor agree on key elements of standstill agreement

Member banks of the coordinating committee of financial creditors and representatives of the Agrokor food company have in principle agreed on key elements of a standstill agreement, which is expected to be signed later today, announcing changes in the company's management team, Erste Bank said in a statement on Friday afternoon.

Syrian man on trial in Sweden; mosque attack labelled terrorism

A Syrian man went on trial Friday in the southern Swedish city of Malmo, charged with terrorism and arson after an attack last year on a building used as an assembly hall by Shiite Muslims.