Authoritarian firebrand Rodrigo Duterte warned of a “rough ride” after being sworn in as the Philippines’ president on Thursday, promising a relentless war on crime and corruption but also to be a unifying leader.
Duterte, 71, won last month’s election in a landslide after a campaign dominated by foul-mouthed threats to kill tens of thousands of criminals and tirades against the nation’s elite that cast him as an incendiary, anti-establishment hero.
After taking his oath before a small audience inside the Malacanang presidential palace, ending the era of Benigno Aquino 3rd, Duterte signaled there would indeed be some dark days during his six years in office.
“The ride will be rough but come join me just the same,” Duterte said in a short speech, with his opening remarks focused on familiar themes about the need to instil discipline in a graft-infested society.
“The problems that bedevil our country today which need to be addressed with urgency are corruption, both in the high and low echelons in government, criminality in the streets and the rampant sale of illegal drugs in all strata of Philippine society and the breakdown of law and order,” Duterte said.
A lawyer who earned a reputation as an authoritarian figure as mayor of the southern city of Davao over most of the past two decades, Duterte said these problems were symptoms of an erosion of Filipinos’ faith in the nation’s leaders.
Duterte has outlined a vision for his anti-crime programme that included reintroducing the death penalty, with hanging his preferred method of execution.
He said he would issue shoot-to-kill orders to the security services and offer them bounties for the bodies of drug dealers. He also urged ordinary Filipinos to kill suspected criminals.