The Philippine president-elect has encouraged the public to help him in his war against crime, urging citizens with guns to shoot and kill drug dealers who resist arrest and fight back in their neighborhoods, reports the AP. In a televised speech Saturday, Rodrigo Duterte told a huge crowd that Filipinos who help him battle crime will be rewarded. "Please feel free to call us, the police, or do it yourself if you have the gun—you have my support," Duterte said, warning of an extensive illegal drug trade that involves the country's police. If a drug dealer resists arrest or refuses to be brought to a police station and threatens a citizen with a gun or a knife, "you can kill him," Duterte said. "Shoot him and I'll give you a medal." The 71-year-old Duterte won the May 9 presidential election on a bold promise to end crime and corruption within six months of his presidency. That vow resonated among crime-weary Filipinos, though police considered it campaign rhetoric that was impossible to accomplish.
Watchdogs have expressed alarm that his anti-crime drive may lead to widespread human rights violations. Duterte has been suspected of playing a role in many killings of suspected criminals by motorcycle-riding assassins known as the "Davao death squads," but watchdogs say he has not been charged because nobody dares testify against him. In his speech Saturday, Duterte also asked three police generals to resign for crimes that he did not specify. He threatened to humiliate them in public and said he would order a review of dismissed criminal cases of active cops. "If you're still into drugs, I will kill you, don't take this as a joke. I'm not trying to make you laugh, son of a bitch, I will really kill you," he said to loud jeers and applause. Duterte said crimes are committed by law enforcers because of "extreme greed and extreme need," and that those motivated by the latter will "be dealt with by me. I'll have you killed." Duterte starts his six-year term on June 30. (Read more Rodrigo Duterte stories.)