The Philippines’ controversial president-elect, Rodrigo Duterte, will assume his post on June 30. As mayor of the Philippines’ second largest city, Davao, Duterte was accused of employing “death squads” to rid the streets of drug dealers and lower the crime rate. He has vowed to bring back the death penalty so that he can legally execute drug traffickers, rapists and murderers. On June 1, Duterte said that “corrupt” journalists were legitimate targets for assassination. He once commented on the 1989 gang rape and murder of an Australian missionary during a prison riot: “I was mad she was raped but she was so beautiful. I thought, the mayor should have been first.”
Despite all of this, Duterte wristbands are a common sight among poor Filipinos. The slums of Manila and Cebu remain impoverished, despite a 5.8 percent GDP growth rate in 2015. This is juxtaposed with data showing that the collective wealth of the 40 richest Filipino families grew by $13bn during the year 2010-2011, to $47.4bn – an increase of 37.9 percent. The country has a history of oligarchic dictatorships, but the people have now elected an “outside-the-box” candidate. Many impoverished Filipinos say they voted for Duterte because they believe he can reduce crime and create a more just society.