Rodrigo Duterte, the Mayor of Davao City, Philippines, is being hailed as ‘The Punisher’ for his controversial crime fighting strategies. Despite being a government official, Duterte allegedly uses vigilante methods that have elicited severe criticism across the world. But in Davao, he’s considered a hero. During his long mandate, he’s transformed the city once known as the murder capital of the Philippines into what many call “the most peaceful city in Southeast Asia”.
The Punisher is a comic book and movie character who will stop at nothing to keep criminals in check. He resorts to violence, torture and even murder in his war against wrongdoers. Some say Duterte isn’t very different. Although he has never openly admitted being involved in the kidnappings and executions of various crime lords in Davao, his controversial comments on crime and encouragement of vigilante activity have convinced a lot of people that he is indeed a real-life Punisher.
“If you are doing an illegal activity in my city, if you are a criminal or part of a syndicate that preys on the innocent people of the city, for as long as I am the mayor, you are a legitimate target of assassination,” Mr Duterte said in 2009. Three years later, during a press conference, he reportedly offered a $120,000 reward to whomever brought him the head of an alleged gang leader, and a $24,000 bonus if it was brought in a bag of ice, “so it won’t smell so bad”.