THE offer of bounty to the police in killing criminals by incoming the Cebu City mayor is deepening concerns of extra-judicial deaths under the rule of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte.
Tomas Osmeña has said he would pay policemen P50,000 for each criminal they kill and P5,000 for each one they wound.
“If you kill a criminal in the line of duty, (you’ll be rewarded), no questions asked. I’m there to assist the police, not to prosecute them,” Osmeña told Agence France-Presse (AFP) by telephone. “That is my purpose: to instill fear in the criminals. If they want to commit crimes, they get into war with me. I will see to it that they will be casualties.”
Osmeña gave a P20,000 reward this week to a Cebu policeman who wounded two robbers in a gun battle, Supt. Oscar Monteroyo of the Cebu police civil relations office told AFP.
Asked if such rewards might encourage vigilante killings, Osmena said: “I’m not going to suppress vigilantes.”
Osmeña’s pledge comes after Duterte, the longtime mayor of the southern Davao City, won the May 9 presidential elections in a landslide largely due to a controversial law-and-order platform headlined by a vow to kill tens of thousands of criminals.
Duterte vowed during the campaign to wipe out crime within six months by unleashing security forces with shoot-to-kill orders.
He said 100,000 criminals would die in his crackdown, and that so many bodies would be dumped in Manila Bay that the fish there would grow fat from feeding on them.
Since winning the election, Duterte also said he would bring back the death penalty, with hanging as his preferred method of execution.
Asked if he was following Duterte’s example, Osmeña, a member of a powerful family and a former Cebu mayor, said: “I’m not encouraged by him. But I think he is doing the right thing.”
Osmeña said the bounties would not come from government funds, but would not disclose their source.
Duterte’s spokesman, Salvador Panelo, said the incoming president would not allow extra-judicial killings, though he declined to condemn the bounties.
“Maybe Mayor Osmeña is just joking, attempting a new gimmick so that his administration will be popular. To each his own,” Panelo said.