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Duterte’s 10 grand plans to change the Philippines

Rodrigo Duterte was sworn in as Philippine president on Thursday after a landslide election victory last month built on a series of bold and controversial pledges. Here are 10 ways Mr Duterte plans to change the Philippines during his six years as president:

Rodrigo Duterte was sworn in as Philippine president on Thursday after a landslide election victory last month built on a series of bold and controversial pledges. The News and Information Bureau, Malacanang Palace via AP
Rodrigo Duterte was sworn in as Philippine president on Thursday after a landslide election victory last month built on a series of bold and controversial pledges. The News and Information Bureau, Malacanang Palace via AP

MANILA // Rodrigo Duterte was sworn in as Philippine president on Thursday after a landslide election victory last month built on a series of bold and controversial pledges.

Here are 10 ways Mr Duterte plans to change the Philippines during his six years as president:

1. War on drugs

Duterte has said he must take extreme measures to stop the Philippines becoming a narcotic state. Security forces will be given shoot-to-kill orders. Bounties will be paid for killing drug dealers. Ordinary citizens will also be encouraged to kill suspects. The death penalty will be restored, by hanging.

2. Federalism

Duterte, who rails against “Imperial Manila”, intends to change the centralised government to a federal system in which newly created states would have a large degree of autonomy. They would also be able to keep most of their revenues. Doing so will require rewriting the constitution.

3. Peace with Muslim and communist rebels

Duterte insists he can end decades-old Muslim and communist rebellions, which have claimed tens of thousands of lives. Peace talks with the communists are set to start this month. He expects federalism will appease Muslim rebels, who want autonomy.

4. Birth control

Duterte wants to slow the Philippines’ fast-growing population, which recently surged past 100 million. He says families should aim for a maximum of three children. Duterte wants government agencies to supply the poor with free condoms and birth control pills. A 2012 law allowing for that has not been fully implemented, partly due to opposition from the powerful Catholic church.

5. Fighting poverty

Duterte describes himself as a “socialist”, and has vowed to change an economic model that has created one of Asia’s biggest rich-poor divides. Roughly one quarter of the population live below the poverty line. He says federalism is one key to this. But he also plans to continue with the successful macroeconomic policies of his predecessor, Benigno Aquino.

6. Curfew

Duterte plans to roll out a nationwide curfew on children being on the streets alone late at night. He also wants to ban alcohol being served in public past midnight, and stop people from singing karaoke — a national passion — in public late in the late evening.

7. Corruption

Duterte has promised to rid government agencies, police and the military of deep-rooted corruption. But aside from general statements, such as corrupt officials should “retire or die”, he has not explained how he would fix one of the Philippines’ most intractable problems.

8. Marcos

Duterte intends to allow late dictator Ferdinand Marcos to be buried at a cemetery for national heroes, saying this will help end decades of social division over the issue. But human rights victims say this will help whitewash the dictator’s crimes.

9. Opening up to foreign investment

Duterte is in favour of changing the constitution to lift restrictive foreign investment laws. Duterte told telcos to improve one of the region’s slowest internet connections or face competition from foreign players. But he is opposed to foreign ownership of land.

10. China ties

After relations with China plummeted during Aquino’s term over a South China Sea territorial dispute, Duterte has said he wants “friendly” ties with Beijing. Aquino refused to hold direct negotiations with China over the maritime dispute, but Duterte is open to one-on-one talks. He is also courting Chinese investment in infrastructure.

* Agence France-Presse