Duterte warns lawmakers: Do not stand in my way

CEBU CITY, Philippines - Philippine President-elect Rodrigo Duterte has reportedly asked the Congress not to stand in his way of implementing his controversial anticrime campaign.

Philippine President-elect Rodrigo Duterte has warned lawmakers not to stand in the way of his war against drugs and criminality by conducting investigations.

In a speech during his thanksgiving party on Wednesday night, Duterte said he told some congressmen, including incoming Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, during a meeting in Davao City on Tuesday night not to make the mistake of conducting a congressional inquiry on his anticrime campaign when it gets off the ground.

"Don't investigate me. The road will end with me. The buck stops here. We are going to have a fight," he said. "I am doing what is right, as long as it is the truth."

In his hourlong profanity-laden speech at the Cebu Country Club, Duterte told some 300 supporters he was offering a 5.5-million-peso (S$163,000) reward for every drug lord slain in Cebu. The amount is 500,000 pesos more than the 5-million-peso bounty for every drug lord that he announced during his victory party in Davao City last week.

He explained that the higher amount was a "premium" because "those who live in Cebu are good people."

Cebu City Mayor-elect Tomas Osmeña has offered policemen 50,000 pesos for every suspected criminal killed.

The tough-talking Duterte, who won the presidential election on May 9 on an anticrime platform, said the reward was a plea for drug lords to stop. "Stop it so there will be no trouble," he said.

Duterte also warned policemen to stop misdeclaring the actual volume of seized drugs.

"I do not want to go to the extreme but I am asking for the reversal of these things. If I cannot get it the right way, then, I will do it the wrong way because I have a sworn duty to protect the Republic," he said.

He called on prison officials to solve the problem of illegal drugs being sneaked in and out of their facilities and should not wait for him to make a move.

Duterte pointed out that he had traced the source of the illegal drugs to New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City, south of the capital city of Manila.

"Where do you find in this planet, in the world, where the penal institutions, where the lowlifes are gathered there and they continue to take 'shabu' (methamphetamine) and commit crime and live like kings?" he said.

"I told the officers there, you solve your problem now or I will solve it for you when I get to you. I do not want anybody standing there," he said.

The NBP has been subject of several greyhound operations or "Oplan Galugad" since last year.

Duterte criticised the previous administrations for failing to take a hard stance on illegal drugs that he said were now "flooding the country."

In Manila, Alvarez denied Duterte had warned the incoming Congress not to interfere in his efforts to solve crime and illegal drugs in the country. The incoming Speaker of the House of Representatives said Duterte had been vocal on how he wanted to have as little to do with Congress' affairs as possible.

Incoming Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said Duterte respected the separation of powers between the executive and the legislative branches. "That is just speculation," said Cusi of Duterte's reported warning.

Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas, the expected majority leader, said when he and other House leaders led by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. met with Duterte in Davao City on Tuesday, Duterte gave assurance that he would not interfere in their work.

"He categorically stated that he respects the independence of the legislature and will not impose his will on it. He solicited our support for his legislative agenda," said Fariñas.

Fariñas said he found Duterte one of the rare leaders who remained humble despite their popularity. "Out of the seven Presidents I've worked with, I found him to be the most humble," Fariñas said.

Ako Bicol Rep. Rodel Batocabe, who represented the party-list bloc in the Davao City meeting, said Duterte would not stand in the way of Congress' work.

"He just enlisted our help in the fight against drugs by reimposing the death penalty since according to him, if the death penalty is properly implemented, it will be an effective deterrent against crime," Batocabe said.