Duterte sworn in as president of Philippines
The 71-year-old former prosecutor and longtime mayor of southern Davao city won a resounding victory in May’s elections
Rodrigo Duterte was sworn in Thursday as president of the Philippines, with some hoping his maverick style will energize the country but others fearing he will undercut one of Asia’s liveliest democracies amid threats to kill criminals en masse.
The 71-year-old former prosecutor and longtime mayor of southern Davao city won a resounding victory in May’s elections in his first foray into national politics.
Duterte, who begins a six-year term as president, captured attention with promises to cleanse the poor Southeast Asian nation of criminals and government crooks within six months — an audacious pledge that was welcomed by many crime-weary Filipinos but alarmed human rights watchdogs and the influential Roman Catholic church.
Shortly after Duterte’s election win, policemen launched an anti-drug crackdown under his name, leaving dozens of mostly poor drug-dealing suspects dead in gunfights with police or in mysterious circumstances.
Days before his swearing in, Duterte was threatening criminals with death if they wouldn’t reform.
“If you destroy my country, I will kill you,” he said in a warning to criminals in a speech during the last flag-raising ceremony he presided as mayor in Davao city this week.
Vice President Leni Robredo, a human rights lawyer who comes from a rival political party, was sworn in earlier in a separate ceremony. Vice presidents are separately elected in the Philippines, and in a sign of Duterte’s go-it-alone style, he has not met her since the May 9 vote.
In a country long ruled by wealthy political clans, Duterte rose from middle-class roots. He built a reputation on the campaign trail with profanity-laced speeches, sex jokes and curses that sideswiped even the widely revered pope and the United Nations.
His brash style has been likened to that of presumptive US Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, although he detests the comparison and says the American billionaire is a bigot and he’s not.
Duterte is the first president to come from the country’s volatile south, homeland of minority Muslims and scene of a decades-long Muslim separatist insurgency, where he said his central Philippine-based family migrated in search of better opportunities.
Philippine leader says could be open to talks with militantsPhilippine president-elect Rodrigo Duterte says he could be open to peace talks with the Islamic militant group Abu Sayyaf. Gulf
Philippine president-elect urges public to kill drug dealersHuman rights watchdogs have expressed alarm that his anti-crime drive may lead to widespread rights violations Gulf
Obama congratulates presumptive Philippine president, stresses rightsThe White House said Obama and Rodrigo Duterte spoke by phone in their first conversation since Duterte declared victory World News
Philippine president-elect to offer Cabinet posts to rebelsRodrigo Duterte said he will launch a military offensive to destroy Abu Sayyaf extremists on southern Jolo Island Gulf