After voting, Duterte calls for 'healing'

Joel Guinto, ABS-CBN News

Presidential candidate Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte casts his vote at the Daniel Aguinaldo National High School in Davao City on Monday. Based on pre-election surveys, around one-third of voters around the country expressed preference for the feisty mayor, which could make him the first president from Mindanao. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

DAVAO CITY -- Frontrunner Rodrigo Duterte said Monday he was seeking to unite the country after a vicious and divisive presidential campaign as he warned criminals and corrupt officials that they would be shot if they fought back.

The 71-year-old maverick mayor said he was "hopeful," but not "presumptuous" to claim victory in Monday's balloting even if opinion polls ahead of the vote showed him with a commanding lead.

"These past few days were quite virulent for all of us
This is part of a day's work in the elections. I would like to reach my hand to my opponents, let us begin the healing now," Duterte told reporters after he cast his vote.

"I'm sure feathers have been ruffled terribly. There's the hurt. The black propaganda and kitchen sink thrown at us. I extend my hands to opponents, let's be friends. Forget about the travails of the elections," he said.

Duterte then wrote the word "STOP" on a white tarpaulin on the stage to stress his point that corruption and crime must stop. He said security forces conspiring with criminal rings had the choice to "retire" or "die."

"You could get killed pag lumabas ka, if you don't want to resign and you insist on doing drugs," he said.

Addressing the police, he said: "You go out and hunt for them, arrest them and if they put up a good fight and refuse to surrender, if you fear your life is in jeopardy, shoot. You have my authority," he said.

"You want my police and soldiers killed? It is the criminals who have to go first. A government that will do nothing, that does not solve the problems of crime and criminality, it will go to waste. It must go out," he said.

Duterte said he would retire from public life if he loses the election.

"I am hopeful and I pray to God. If God wants me there, I will accept it. If God doesn't want me there, I will accept it. I will retire from public life," he said.

Asked about perception that he advocated "mass murder," Duterte said: "That's part of the healing process."

He said allegations that he had women and minors killed in Davao were "pure garbage."

Duterte said he was "satisfied" with the conduct of the elections so far, adding reports of cheating were "not high enough to make a dent" in its credibility.