DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Newly elected mayor Rodrigo Duterte renewed his warning to criminals as he took his oath Sunday, the seventh time he had taken since he was first elected as mayor in 1988.
“Stop or leave,” said Duterte as he prepared to assume the post that his daughter and outgoing mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio held in the last three years.
“If you can’t or will not, you will not survive, you can leave either vertically or horizontally,” Duterte said in a speech after his oath at City Hall Sunday.
“Criminals have no place in the city, except in jails, detention centers, and God forbid, in funeral parlors,” said Duterte, who had since earned the flak from human rights groups and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) for statements that seemed to send an implicit message supporting the unsolved killings of alleged criminals in the city.
Duterte warned drug dealers and drug pushers to mend their ways or pack up and leave. He also told minors in conflict with the law, “Don’t waste away your life,” adding that the Juvenile Delinquent Act, “behind which you seek refuge, is now being amended.”
“Do not wait for that to happen, mend your ways for your and your family’s good,” Duterte said.
But the mayor’s speech had expressed a “deep sense of gratitude” to the people, thanking them for the successful enforcement of such landmark ordinances such as the firecracker ban and the anti-smoking ordinance.
“The most valuable thing that a city is gifted with is not just its flora and fauna, its natural resources, but its people,” Duterte said at the beginning of his speech.
“No leader can achieve much, without the support of the people,” he said, adding that whatever awards and recognition the city has garnered through the years, “was all because of you, you’re with us as we travel every road, every goal, every byway, you were with us in times of calamity.”
Duterte also said the city has been preparing itself against the impact of climate change by relocating people from low-lying areas and making ready the relocation sites for people living in danger zones.