The victor of the Philippines’ presidential election, tough-talking city mayor Rodrigo Duterte, announced plans yesterday for a radical overhaul of the country’s unitary system of government that would empower the provinces.
Duterte’s win in Monday’s poll has not been confirmed, but an unofficial count of votes by an election commission-accredited watchdog showed he had a huge lead over his closest rivals, one of whom has already conceded defeat.
Duterte’s spokesman, Peter Lavina, told a news conference in the southern city of Davao that the new president would seek a national consensus for a revision of the constitution to switch from a US-style system of government to a parliamentary and federal model.
The proposal to devolve power from Manila fits with Duterte’s challenge as a political outsider to the country’s establishment, which he has slammed as self-serving and corrupt.
The spokesman said Duterte would also seek peace agreements with rebel groups in the south of the archipelago, where the outgoing government has been using force to quell militancy.
The 71-year-old’s truculent defiance of political tradition has drawn comparisons with US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, as have his references to his libido.
That tapped into popular disgust with the ruling class over its failure to reduce poverty and inequality despite several years of robust economic growth. His campaign vows to crush crime and drug abuse also resonated with voters.
However, Duterte’s incendiary rhetoric and advocacy of extrajudicial killings to stamp out crime and drugs have alarmed many who hear echoes of the Southeast Asian country’s authoritarian past.
Duterte made a succession of winding, bellicose and at times comical remarks on television late on Monday as the votes were being counted, venting over corruption and bad governance and telling anecdotes from his 22 years as mayor of Davao city.
He said corrupt officials should “retire or die” and reiterated his support for police to use deadly force against criminals.
“If they put up a good fight and refuse to surrender and if you feel your life is in jeopardy, shoot. You have my authority,” he told reporters in Davao, wearing a checked shirt and slouched in a chair. (Reuters)