Duterte: Execution by hanging

Shoot-to-kill will be ordered vs organized crimes; Church, Human Rights group frown at proposal

Incoming President Rodrigo Duterte wants to introduce executions by hanging as part of a crackdown that will also include ordering military snipers to kill suspected criminals.

In press conferences since his victory in May 9 elections, the tough-talking Davao City mayor said security forces would be given “shoot-to-kill” orders and that citizens would learn to fear the law.

“Those who destroy the lives of our children will be destroyed,” Duterte said in wide-ranging comments to reporters in Davao as he outlined his war on crime once he is sworn into office on June 30.

He vowed to roll out Davao law-and-order measures on a nationwide basis, including a 2 a.m. curfew on drinking in public places and a ban on children walking on the streets alone late at night. Smoking in restaurants and hotels will also be banned.

Duterte said a central part of his war on crime would be to bring back the death penalty, which was abolished in 2006 under then-president Gloria Arroyo.

The incoming president said he would ask Congress to reintroduce capital punishment for a wide range of crimes, including drug trafficking, rape, murder, robbery, and kidnapping-for-ransom.

He said he preferred death by hanging to a firing squad because he did not want to waste bullets, and because he believed snapping the spine with a noose was more humane.

Duterte likewise warned the policemen who are into drug business to stop the illegal trade and quit the service. “Please don’t do it, or you will be sorry,” he said adding that there are some generals and policemen who are into drug activities. He advised them to retire so they can still receive (retirement) money. “You will not only lose your funds but you will also lose your life,” Duterte warned erring police officers.

Only God has power over life

Duterte’s plan to revive death penalty and order shoot-to-kill against organized crimes and those who resist arrest drew strong opposition from the Catholic Church leaders. Bataan Bishop Ruperto Santos and Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles rejected Duterte’s plan. Santos called on the incoming President not to play God. “Only God has power over life. No one should play God,” he said in an interview.

Human Rights

Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chairman Chito Gascon said any proposal to reinstate the death penalty must be undertaken in accordance with the 1987 Constitution that had it abolished and later reinstated by Congress for heinous crimes only.

Death Squad Fears

Duterte has been accused of running vigilante death squads during his more than two decades as mayor of Davao, a city of about two million people that he says he has turned into one of the nation’s safest. Rights groups say the squads — made up of police, hired assassins and ex-communist rebels — have killed more than 1,000 people.

They say children and petty criminals were among the victims. Duterte boasted on one occasion during the campaign of being behind the squads, saying they killed 1,700 people. But other times he denied any involvement. (Source: Agence France-Presse)