A NOTORIOUS mayor who has taken law enforcement into his own hands is being urged to run for president of the Philippines. Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who has been dubbed the real-life Punisher, has received local adoration and international condemnation for using vigilante methods to tackle crime. For the uninitiated, The Punisher is a comic book and movie character who wages a one-man war against the mob, using murder, kidnapping, extortion and torture to crush criminal elements.
Mr Duterte, who was elected for his seventh term last year, earnt the “Punisher” reputation by encouraging the killing of criminals without first finding them guilty in court.
Over the past 26 years, the crime fighting mayor has turned Davao City from the murder capital of The Philippines to what tourism organisations now spruik as “the most peaceful city in southeast Asia”.The mayor has long been linked to the so-called Davao Death Squad, a vigilante outfit responsible for the execution of drug traffickers, petty criminals, gang members and other lawless elements. More than 700 people went missing between 2008 and 2008, presumed killed by the squad.
Mr Duterte has never publicly endorsed the squad’s behaviours, but his public comments about cleaning up the streets appear to condone its violent activities.
“If you are doing an illegal activity in my city, if you are a criminal or part of a syndicate that preys on the innocent people of the city, for as long as I am the mayor, you are a legitimate target of assassination,” Mr Duterte said in 2009.
In a 2012 press conference, Mr Duterte offered a $120,000 reward for whoever could bring him the decapitated head of an alleged gang leader, the Daily Mail reports. He offered an extra $24,000 if the head could be brought in a bag of ice, “so it won’t smell so bad”.
His war against rice smugglers raised eyebrows internationally in February when he told a Senate committee that he would “gladly kill” an accused smuggler.
“I want smuggling of rice in my city stopped,” he said at an earlier press conference. “But if you still do not stop your smuggling activities, I will kill you.”
He has also issued a shoot-to-kill order against any lawless elements in Davao City and instructed security forces to shoot any looters after Typhoon Haiyan hit last year…. see more