Rodrigo Duterte is being sworn in as president of the Philippines, after a landslide election victory in May, BBC reports. The controversial former mayor of Davao City, 71, overthrew the political establishment, promising a “bloody war” on crime and corruption.
Nicknamed “Punisher”, he is credited with a dramatic reduction in crime in the city, but rights groups say it was at the expense of human rights. He has also promised to end corruption and spread wealth around the country.
Mr Duterte, who has barely left the Davao in the south since his election win, will take his oath at the Malacanang Palace in Manila, in front of about 600 guests – relatively small for Philippine presidential inaugurations.
Only state media are permitted to cover the event. The new vice-president, Leni Robredo held her own inauguration earlier in the morning in Quezon City, near the capital. Presidents and vice-presidents run separately in the Philippines.
It is the first time the two swearing-in ceremonies have being held separately. Rodrigo Duterte revels in his reputation as an outsider and a political maverick . During 22 years as mayor of Davao, he built a reputation for blunt speaking and for supporting the extrajudicial killing of suspected criminals.
Crime rates fell dramatically but human rights groups estimate that more than 1,000 people were killed with no legal process. Many were executed by shadowy death squads. Mr Duterte’s election campaign was littered with obscenities and populist promises but light on details.
So the country must now wait to see how he delivers on pledges to end corruption, restore the death penalty, and shift to a more federal system of government.
On the international front, despite having bombastically promised to drive a jet-ski to a contested island in the South China Sea, relations between the Philippines and China could be about to improve.
Mr Duterte has indicated that despite differences, and an upcoming ruling from the Permanent Court of Arbitration, he is ready for a more pragmatic, development focused relationship with the Chinese.
After a period of stability under Benigno Aquino, the presidency of Rodrigo Duterte marks a leap into the unknown.