The incoming mayor of a major Philippine city said Friday (May 20) he was offering bounties to police to kill criminals, deepening concerns of extra-judicial deaths under the rule of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte.
Tomas Osmena, incoming mayor of central Cebu city said he would pay policemen 50,000 pesos (US$1,060) for each criminal they kill and 5,000 pesos for each one they wound.
"If you kill a criminal in the line of duty, (you'll be rewarded), no questions asked. I'm there to assist the police, not to prosecute them," Osmena told AFP by telephone.
"That is my purpose: to instill fear in the criminals. If they want to commit crimes, they get into war with me. I will see to it that they will be casualties."
Asked if such rewards might encourage vigilante killings, Osmena said: "I'm not going to suppress vigilantes."
Osmena's pledge comes after Duterte, the longtime mayor of southern Davao city, won the May 9 presidential elections in a landslide largely due to a controversial law-and-order platform headlined by a vow to kill tens of thousands of criminals.
Duterte vowed during the campaign to wipe out crime within six months by unleashing security forces with shoot-to-kill orders.
He said 100,000 criminals would die in his crackdown, and that so many bodies would be dumped in Manila Bay that the fish there would grow fat from feeding on them.
Since winning the election, Duterte also said he would bring back the death penalty, with hanging as his preferred method of execution.
Asked if he was following Duterte's example, Osmena, a member of a powerful family and a former Cebu mayor, said: "I'm not encouraged by him. But I think he is doing the right thing."
Osmena said the bounties would not come from government funds but would not disclose their source.
Osmena already gave a reward this week of 20,000 pesos to a Cebu policeman who wounded two robbers in a gun battle, Superintendent Oscar Monteroyo of the Cebu police civil relations office told AFP.
Duterte's spokesman, Salvador Panelo, said the incoming president would not allow extra-judicial killings, though he declined to condemn the bounties.
"Maybe mayor Osmena is just joking, attempting a new gimmick so that his administration will be popular. To each his own," Panelo said.