Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte bans smoking in any public place

Jasper Jolly
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Duterte is President of the Philippines (Source: Getty)

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has banned smoking in public places both indoors and outdoors apart from in tightly controlled areas.

Duterte signed an executive order instituting the ban last night, Reuters reported.

Filipinos will only be allowed to smoke in designated public areas not larger than 10m squared.

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People who flout the ban will face four months in prison and a 5,000 peso fine, with tobacco advertising also outlawed.

The Philippine President, who is reportedly himself a former smoker, has quickly earned a reputation as a maverick authoritarian, with promises of a clampdown on illegal drugs quickly turning into a spate of extrajudicial murders of people involved with narcotics.

Before his election in May 2016 Duterte promised a platform that was tough on crime, with drugs and other vices at the centre of his campaign.

As mayor of the city of Davao Duterte became notorious for allegedly sanctioning the killing of drug addicts and dealers, as well as using death squads to target other petty criminals.

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When he became President he declared a “war on drugs”. Human Rights Watch alleges the Philippines police as well as unidentified vigilantes have killed more than 7,000 people under the name of “Operation Double Barrel”.

Amnesty International reports more than 800,000 "surrendered" to authorities rather than face extrajudicial murder, leading to massive prison overcrowding.

In December Duterte himself admitted to killing criminal suspects, leading for some opposition politicians to call for his arrest, without success.

Duterte's regime has appalled international observers and former allies, with the President calling Barack Obama a "son of a whore". The Philippines was formerly a vital South East Asian ally for the US as it tries to contain the threat to its dominance posed by China.

Duterte also risked the ire of a heavily Catholic country by turning the same insult on Pope Francis.

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