DAVAO Mayor Rodrigo Duterte renewed his vow to kill criminals and threatened to also kill those who will file criminal charges against him as he hit the stump in the capital heading into the home stretch of a controversial campaign.
“The drug pushers, kidnappers, robbers, find them all and arrest them. If they resist, kill them all,” he told about 2,000 people who cheered and shook their fists during a central Manila rally shortly after midnight.
“Go ahead and charge me with murder, so I could also kill you,” he added.
Duterte had earlier pledged to kill 100,000 criminals and dump so many in Manila Bay that the “fish will grow fat” from feeding on them.
More than 50 million people in the mainly Catholic Asian nation are qualified to vote on May 9.
Seen by fans and foes alike as a real-life “Dirty Harry” from a southern city made infamous by shadowy vigilante death squads, the 71-year-old mayor has recently led presidential surveys.
Analysts say Duterte’s profanity-laced campaign resonates in a chaotic, high-crime society with limited opportunities for a vast underclass working for a tiny elite.
This was despite having called Pope Francis a “son of a bitch” and making crass comments about the jailhouse rape of an Australian lay Christian missionary who was killed in a 1989 prison riot in Duterte’s own city.
His April 12 comments, in which he suggested that as mayor he should have been the first in line to rape the victim, drew widespread public condemnation, including from the ambassador of Australia.
He has also vowed to hold direct talks with China to resolve overlapping claims in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), in a reversal of President Benigno Aquino’s policy of multilateral discussions with other claimants and international arbitration.
Duterte has lately swapped tirades with his rivals, particularly Vice President Jejomar Binay and former Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd.
During a campaign sortie in Kalibo, Aklan, the mayor slammed Roxas for his incompetence.
“Mar Roxas is the weakest link,” Duterte said, citing the misuse of Yolanda funds and the Metro Rail Transit 3 mess.
Roxas served as Transportation Secretary before he transferred to the Department of Transportation and Communications.
The tough-talking mayor said Roxas does not have the qualities of a president.
“Ang proseso ng presidente marunong kang magdala ng Mamasapano at Yolanda [A president should know how to handle a Mamasapano or a Yolanda],” Duterte said.
The Aquino government was heavily criticized for how it handled super-typhoon Yolanda, which left at least 6 ,000 people dead. It was also blasted for the Mamasapano tragedy where 44 elite police commandos were killed by members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and other armed groups.
Duterte reiterated his promise to stop crime, criminality and corruption within the first six months of his term.
“People will come first, people will come first,” he said. “I can guarantee you that it will be a clean government.”