Hope and fear as combative president takes over Philippines

Sounds like, looks like – a Donald Trump has become President of Philippines!


MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Rodrigo Duterte was sworn in Thursday as president of the Philippines, with many hoping his maverick style will energize the country but others fearing he could undercut one of Asia’s liveliest democracies amid his threats to kill criminals en masse.

The 71-year-old former prosecutor and longtime mayor of southern Davao city won a resounding victory in May’s elections in his first foray into national politics. He has described himself as the country’s first leftist president and said his foreign policy will not be dependent on the United States, a longtime ally.

The frugal noontime ceremony at Malacanan, the Spanish colonial- era presidential palace by Manila’s murky Pasig River, was a break from tradition sought by Duterte to press the need for austerity amid the country’s grinding poverty. In the past, the oath-taking has mostly been held at a grandstand in a historic park by Manila Bay, followed by a grand reception.

Vice President Leni Robredo, a human rights lawyer who comes from a rival political party, was sworn in earlier in a separate ceremony in her office compound. Vice presidents are separately elected in the Philippines, and in a sign of Duterte’s go-it-alone style, he has not met her since the May 9 vote.

Duterte, who began a six-year term, captured attention with promises to cleanse his poor Southeast Asian nation of criminals and government crooks within six months — an audacious pledge that was welcomed by many crime-weary Filipinos but alarmed human rights watchdogs and the dominant Roman Catholic Church.

Duterte’s inauguration address, before a crowd of more than 600 relatives, officials and diplomats, was markedly bereft of the profanities, sex jokes and curses that were a trademark of his campaign speeches. There were no menacing death threats against criminals, but he pressed the urgency of battling crime and graft, promised to stay within the bounds of the law and appealed to Congress and the Commission on Human Rights “to mind your work and I will mind mine.”

“There are those who do not approve of my methods of fighting criminality, the sale and use of illegal drugs and corruption. They say that my methods are unorthodox and verge on the illegal,” Duterte said.

He added: “The fight will be relentless and it will be sustained.” “As a lawyer and a former prosecutor, I know the limits of the power and authority of the president. I know what is legal and what is not. My adherence to the due process and the rule of law is uncompromising,” he said to loud applause…

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