Philippines president-elect Duterte urges public to kill criminals

Philippine President-elect Rodrigo Duterte speaks during a news conference in Davao city on June 2, 2016.
Philippine President-elect Rodrigo Duterte speaks during a news conference in Davao city on June 2, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

MANILA (AFP) - The Philippines' president-elect Rodrigo Duterte urged the public to join his anti-crime crackdown, offering people huge bounties for killing drug dealers.

His announcement late on Saturday (June 4) 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 stressed that drug addicts could not be rehabilitated and warned, "if you are involved in drugs, I will kill you... I will really kill you".

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$147,000) if he is dead. If he is alive, only 4.999 million," he laughed.

The president-elect, who takes office on June 30 and is the longtime 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.