New policy from the Philippines I can get behind

The mayor of a large Philippine city has vowed to pay a $700 (NZ$1035) bounty to police officers for killing criminals, stoking fears that the election of a tough-talking president will usher in an era of vigilante justice.

Tomas Osmena, the new leader of Cebu City, said that he will give officers 50,000 pesos for each wrongdoer killed “in the line of duty” as well as protect them from prosecution.

The reward is more than three times the basic pay for a patrol officer and has fuelled criticism by human rights groups that populist politicians will encourage a wave of extrajudicial killings by security forces.

Rodrigo Duterte won a landslide victory in this month’s presidential elections after pledging to wipe out crime within six months and predicted that 100,000 wrongdoers would die when he ordered a “shoot-to-kill” crackdown.

He is the long-serving mayor of Davao where he earned the nicknames of “the Punisher” and “Duterte Harry” for his harsh law-and-order policies in a city once called the country’s “murder capital”.

This man was democratically elected on a policy that will pay police to kill criminals for $1000 a head. 

When asked if such rewards might encourage vigilante killings, he responded: “I’m not going to suppress vigilantes.”

Osmena has already given a reward this week of nearly $400 to a Cebu policeman who wounded two robbers in a shoot-out, officials said.

Duterte’s spokesman, Salvador Panelo, said the new president would not allow extrajudicial killings, though he did not condemn the bounties.

“Maybe mayor Osmena is just joking, attempting a new gimmick so that his administration will be popular,” he said, adding: “To each his own.”

During the election campaign, Duterte said that he would make the fish of Manila Bay fat with the bodies of criminals and offered to “butcher” a criminal.

Human Rights Watch said that paying money for police to kill criminal suspects was a repugnant attempt to legitimise secret death squads.

“Filipinos, who over the years have made great sacrifices for accountability and rule of law, should resist these moves by their politicians,” the New York-based organisation said.

Duterte has said that he will push for the reintroduction of the death penalty after he takes office on June 30.

The savings to society would be substantial.  No court.  No prison.

Yes, there would be the odd person killed that wasn’t supposed to die, but that happens now.  We also lock people up that weren’t supposed to be locked up.

Whichever way you look at it, this is a fantastic policy.


– Stuff


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  • sandalwood789

    I *really like* this approach!

    I saw somewhere that it was this very policy that transformed Davao from a hellhole into now being one of the five safest cities in the world.

    • rua kenana

      One of the 5 safest cities in the world?
      Then I guess the policy won’t need to be applied very much.
      Unless maybe to prop up underpaid police incomes.

      • Chinaman

        When in Thailand on holiday once an expat American told me that the Thai police have a special branch to carry out extra judicial killings.

        Apparently when the drug gangs get to brazen this branch of the ”police” do a little ”dirty Harrying”!

  • Logan

    I was in The Philippines a couple of weeks ago on election day, they take it pretty seriously there, alcohol sales are banned for 2 days prior, and no-one is allowed to carry their guns on election day. The support for Duterte was incredible and public, every second person had a shirt, hat, sign, sticker etc supporting him.

    • island time

      He was also quoted as saying that death penalty would be by hanging as it was cheaper than bullets & snapping the spine was a more effective way of killing people. I work with a couple of Filipinos and they support this as obviously do many others.

  • RightofSingapore

    Duterte also encouraged business in Davao to branch out into the funeral industry and promised them he would supply plenty of bodies ha ha.
    If the handwringers are so worried, the solution is simple-don’t rob, rape, bash or kill people and don’t do drugs.

  • Greg

    In the 70’s and 80’s Davao was widely considered the single most dangerous city in Asia. Kidnapping gangs, Islamic State (though they were known as the MILF or Abu Sayyaf up until recently when they swore allegiance to the calpihate) and the NPA (The longest running and best armed communist insurgency in Asia) were all battling over turf, and kidnapping people, extorting and murdering with impunity.

    Rodrigo was a lawyer at the time, a job with a limited life expectancy in that part of the world. He was elected mayor on a ‘tough on crime’ platform. And he delivered in spades.

    Within his first month of being mayor, he was personally involved in multiple shootouts with kidnapping gangs and Islamic terrorists. The police force was incredibly corrupt and often worked in tandem with the gangs. In one such instance, the police had met the kidnapping gangs and delivered the required ransom and prisoner exchange. Duterte didn’t trust the police involved, so he had his security detail take him to ‘the drop’ where he confronted the kidnappers and started shooting and recovered the ransom money. Eventually the entire police force would be replaced.

  • Jax

    Well the results will speak for themselves whatever they might be. If they are as I think we expect – a dramatic drop in crime. Then perhaps our useless politicians will realise that incentives (or disincentives in this case) actually do make a difference and bring in some of our own tough measures.

  • Simon

    I realise this is the Philippines and maybe you’re not actually being serious, but you can’t really be for principles such as free speech, right to self defence (ie 2nd Amendment), smaller government – yet at the same time be for the removal of due process. Even the worst offenders should still be proven guilty in a court before getting life in prison or the death penalty if that’s what you believe in.

    • There comes a time, like when someone has been proven guilty over 100 times is are still out walking the streets, when people are going to question whether the current system is actually working and extreme options start looking palitable.

      • The Fat Man

        100 times some are on strike 200+ and showing no sign of slowing down.

        3 Strikes has already been undermined, by the judiciary, they have sent a clear signal.

        “Manifestly Unjust” and that is at the 2nd strike.

    • The Fat Man

      The problem is that the current system is not working.

      The hardened criminals are few but we keep on letting them out and they keep on committing crime.

      Look at the crime stats for the scum that Australia has returned home. All for good reason.

      If you take a hard line the problem eventually goes away. That is lock them up and keep them locked up.or better still find a more permanent solution.

    • Simon

      I get it, and being tough on criminals is fine – just arbitrary executions by the police force means that’s a police state.

      • But if the people have democratically elected you to implement it….?

      • Currently we have a catch and release justice system. Being a hunter I never could understand the fishing habit of catch and release.

  • JohnO

    The biggest inequality between the wealthy and the poor is the lack of security for the poor. They are constant victims of the vicious, and thieves , and all sorts of low life who unlawfully victimise and abuse and degrade them because they cannot afford security. The wealthy and powerful live in crime-free areas have good security and call on security firms when needed.
    Governments can and should raise the security of the crime-oppressed poor to the level of security enjoyed by judges and MPs. That means jailing of perpetrators to prevent them perpetrating more criminal oppression of the poor.

  • 10cents

    There is no love lost for criminals on this blog, thats true, but when it is a family member, say one of your kids, gunned down for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, lets see if there is the same level of support for a shoot first – ask questions later approach eh.

    • The Fat Man

      Good point but far more die at work , on the roads, suicide, medical miss adventure etc

    • Jax

      Hard to disagree that would indeed be terrible. However being raped, murdered, kidnapped or all 3 which was a daily occurrence and far more frequent is also terrible. So at least they are doing something.

  • The Fat Man

    We have more than a few candidates.

    What we are lacking is people with requisite skill, Police have shown on several occasions that they do not.

  • spanishbride

    When it comes to terrorism I would support a policy of zero tolerance. This would mean that anyone who takes part in terrorism ie training, providing explosives, suicide vests, weapons etc as well as carrying it out automatically gets the death penalty no exceptions ( unless they were forced to do it because of threats etc ) Terrorism is WAR and during wartime different rules apply.
    This would mean no court time, jail time, or time telling their story to the media and becoming a Jihardi role model.Many are prepared to die for the cause anyway so let’s give them what they want without the glory of going out in a blaze of gunfire.
    If they know that ANY involvement at all will guarantee their death, all those enabling the attacks, recruiting the teenagers etc might not be so keen. Let’s put some terror into their hearts. How about we send them a message?
    Of course we are far too civilised to do that which is why they will win.

  • Doug

    Personally, although I love the theory, I would like to see a few checks on this… the way it is reported (I know, through the media, I doubt we have been told the while idea) makes it seem to me to be potentially open for abuse

  • Huia

    I imagine there will be a sharp drop in crime if the criminals become the bullseye.
    If it works, only a few will be taken out and the general populace will sleep in peace.
    But, it’s a thin red line between the criminals and the Police sometimes and could end up in open warfare.

  • Superman

    At first glance this looks like a good policy and one I would support but there will be problems. Scores will be settled and innocent people will pay a price but this is what happens when society believes justice is not done and not seen to be done. If we continue to treat criminals as victims and give them rights they don’t deserve we are going to face the same thing here eventually. Violent criminals need to be put away for good and not allowed out on bail or parole to commit the same crimes again. The Blessie Gotingco case is one in point.

  • Keanne Lawrence

    There might be a bit of a pause in getting such a policy implemented. While the local PNP all look smart in their uniforms right down to very shiny shoes funding shortages have meant they have to buy their own bullets! In fact it is easier to get rid of somebody with the budget method of a drive by shooting. They sweep in on a motorbike and the pillion passenger does the shooting. Two not more than a block from our house and that is in the City of The Gentle People.
    The President Elect does not take office until June 30th but he is already choosing his cabinet from amongst the many famous till fiddlers from the Aroyo administration who’s reputation was edging towards the level of the Marcos regime. In his part of the country there was mob hysteria leading up to his election and that can just as easily swing to anger if he fails to fast track some of his “promises”. Largely the rest of the country only seems to know his election catch phrase “You will be my political machine”.
    The failed dirty politics strategy in NZ is in the fairy-tale category compared to the local version and the fun as just started.
    It will be interesting from the side-lines to see if Duterte can go the distance but IMO the 6 year term might be 3 years or more too long.