Duterte claims Philippine presidency, vows crime crackdown
Davao, May 10: Incendiary Philippine politician Rodrigo Duterte vowed today a relentless crackdown on crime after claiming a landslide presidential victory built on foul-mouthed populist tirades that exposed deep voter anger at the establishment.
The 71-year-old firebrand stormed to victory in yesterday's election, securing an insurmountable lead of nearly six million votes over his nearest rival, as a growing global howl for strong, populist leaders swept across the Southeast Asian nation.
Duterte, the longtime mayor of the southern city of Davao, captivated Filipinos with vows of brutal but quick solutions to crime and poverty, while offering himself as a decisive strongman capable of resolving a host of other deeply entrenched problems in society.
"It's with humility, extreme humility, that I accept this, the mandate of the people," Duterte told AFP in Davao early on Tuesday morning as the results came in.
"I feel a sense of gratitude to the Filipino people." In other comments to reporters who had converged on Davao, Duterte offered an olive branch to his rivals following a deeply divisive campaign that had seen President Benigno Aquino brand him a dictator in the making who would bring terror to the nation.
"I want to reach out my hand and let us begin the healing now," said Duterte, whose campaigning style and ability to upend conventional political wisdom have drawn comparisons with US Republican Donald Trump. However Duterte vowed to push through on the central plank of his campaign platform -- ending crime across the nation within six months and eliminating corruption.
On the campaign trail he had enraged critics but hypnotised fans with profanity-laced promises to kill tens of thousands of criminals, forget human rights laws and pardon himself for mass murder. While avoiding such extreme inflammatory remarks, Duterte said a law-and-order crackdown that particularly targeted drugs would be one of his top priorities when he became president, and he was prepared to kill.
"I will do it (fight drugs), even if they say I am an executioner," said Duterte, who rights groups accuse of running vigilante death squads in Davao that have killed more than 1,000 people. "Look what I did to Davao.
I will not let down the people." Duterte, who on the campaign trail boasted of being behind the death squads, also had a warning for corrupt police. "If you are a policeman and stick to your racket, choose: either you kill me or I kill you," he said.