Phillipines’ president-elect vows to bring back death penalty

President-elect Rodrigo Duterte. Picture: AP

President-elect Rodrigo Duterte. Picture: AP

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Philippines’ president-elect Rodrigo Duterte has said he aims to bring back death by hanging, in his first comments to reporters since last week’s election.

He also revealed he would seek to give security forces shoot-to-kill powers for suspects who evade arrest and those involved in organised crime.

Mr Duterte said he will ask his country’s congress to reimpose the death penalty, which has been suspended since 2006 following opposition from the Roman Catholic church.

The controversial presumptive president, who was making his first policy pronouncements since winning last week’s election based on an unofficial count, said that capital punishment by hanging should be imposed for crimes such as murder, robbery and rape.

Mr Duterte went on to say that those convicted of more than one crime would be hanged twice.

“After the first hanging, there will be another ceremony for the second time until the head is completely severed from the body,” he said in the nationally televised news conference.

He said he will also offer cabinet posts to communist rebels and move to amend the constitution to give more power to the provinces.

In his first formal news conference since the vote on May 9, Mr Duterte added that he will launch a major military offensive to destroy the extremist group Abu Sayyaf on the southern Jolo Island.

The announcements are a sharp departure from current government policy and reflect his brash campaign pledge to end crime and corruption in the impoverished nation in three to six months.

Police officials have said the plan is unachievable and that crime remains prevalent in Davao City, where Mr Duterte has served as mayor for more than 22 years.

The military have been fighting a decades-long Marxist insurgency in the countryside.

Mr Duterte said he is likely to offer the cabinet posts of environment and natural resources, agrarian reform, social welfare, and labour to the communist rebels.

He said: “They are the most vigilant group in the Philippines about labour so they would get it.”

The move is likely to be opposed by big business and industry.

Mr Duterte said he would also sell the presidential yacht and use the money to buy medical equipment for military and police personnel.

“When people are hungry and jobless ... it would be an obscene thing” to have the luxury vessel lying unused, he said.

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