Duterte offers big bounties for suspected criminals

Philippine President-elect says he will pay millions of pesos to anyone killing drug lords

MANILA • The Philippines' President-elect Rodrigo Duterte has urged the public to join his anti- crime crackdown, offering huge bounties for killing drug dealers.

His announcement late on Saturday came as other officials began paying bounties for slain suspected criminals in an apparent attempt to ride on Mr Duterte's success.

Mr Duterte won the presidential election last month, running on a platform of a ruthless anti-crime campaign. After previously saying he would unleash the military and police on criminals, Mr Duterte said the public could go after them as well.

"If they are there in your neighbourhood, feel free to call us, the police or do it yourself if you have the gun. You have my support," he told his cheering followers.

"If he fights and fights to the death, you can kill him," he said, adding: "I will give you a medal."

He emphasised that drug addicts could not be rehabilitated and warned: "If you are involved in drugs, I will kill you. You son of a whore, I will really kill you."

LICENCE TO KILL

If he fights and fights to the death, you can kill him. I will give you a medal.

PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT-ELECT RODRIGO DUTERTE, urging the public to join his anti-crime crackdown.

Mr Duterte reiterated that his anti-crime campaign would be "a bloody war", as he offered money for slain drug lords.

"I will pay for a drug lord: five million pesos (S$148,000) if he is dead. If he is alive, only 4.999 million," he laughed.

Mr Duterte, who takes office on June 30 and is the long-time mayor of the southern city of Davao, also offered smaller amounts for lower-ranked figures involved in the drug trade.

He did not say how a private citizen could identify suspects.

Mr Duterte has previously been linked with vigilante "death squads" that have killed scores of people in Davao and has vowed to widen his campaign when he becomes president.

Others have followed his lead, with the elected mayor of the central city of Cebu, Mr Tomas Osmena, admitting he paid more than US$3,000 (S$4,070) to police officers for killing drug traffickers.

Mr Duterte and other officials have previously brushed aside warnings from human rights groups about the dangers of such a policy.

At a Davao City concert celebrating his May 9 election victory on Saturday, Mr Duterte warned mining companies whose operations threaten the environment to either upgrade their practices or face closure.

"Mining people must shape up," he told his supporters on Saturday.

Much of what they do now, "especially in Surigao", is problematic. "They have to stop," he said. "They are spoiling the land. They are destroying Mindanao."

Mindanao,  the second-largest Philippine island, is estimated to be sitting on US$300 billion worth of nickel, copper and gold deposits.

The region is mostly undeveloped due to a combination of government neglect and decades of insurgency from leftists and Islamic separatists.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 06, 2016, with the headline 'Duterte offers big bounties for suspected criminals'. Print Edition | Subscribe