At 71, the energetic Duterte is the oldest elected president in the country's history and now, the most storied, as his successful implementation of violence as a means to quell illegal activity in the Philippines have made him popular with the voting public.
After a recent terrorist attack by Muslim extremists, Duterte, describing the attackers as "animals," stated that he was far more dangerous than any criminal, claiming that he would "go down what you can 50 times over… just give me vinegar and salt, I'll eat his liver," according to the Associated Press.
His comments follow a recent bloody armed skirmish in Bohol, a popular island tourist destination in the country. Duterte, who has admitted to shooting people he does not like, vowed that he would stop at nothing to find those responsible for the attack that saw three Philippine soldiers, one policeman, four terrorists and two civilians killed.
"I intend to also arm the civilians," he said, adding, "if you kill, you do not have to worry. You just go to the police and make a report and state your truth and you won't have any problem."
Duterte's popular support of extra-judicial killing of anyone involved, or even suspected of being involved, in distributing, selling or using illegal drugs in the country has drawn strong criticism from numerous human rights groups, both within the country and around the world.
According to a recent Reuters report, roving gangs of police and vigilante groups are able to kill at will, without legal repercussion, often targeting anyone they see as a threat for any reason, and collecting cash payments based on how many corpses they deliver.
Recent estimates claim that just under 3000 people have been shot dead by bounty-hunting groups within the Philippine National Police in the past nine months alone.
In the cultural climate of kill-or-be-killed espoused by Duterte, the body count has sharply increased, as criminals do not hesitate to open fire, recognizing that they will be quickly executed if they submit to arrest.