Controversial leader – who has endorsed extrajudicial executions of drug offenders – says he killed to show police officers ‘if I can do it, why can’t you? Rodrigo Duterte has announced he personally killed suspected criminals when he was mayor of his home city of Davao in the Philippines, cruising the streets on a motorcycle and “looking for trouble”.
The country’s president made the comments in a speech late on Monday night as he discussed his campaign to eradicate illegal drugs, which has seen police and unknown assailants kill around 5,000 people since he became president on 30 June.
“In Davao I used to do it personally. Just to show to the guys [police officers] that if I can do it, why can’t you,” he was quoted as saying by AFP, talking of his two decades as major of the southern city of 1.5 million people.
“And I’d go around in Davao with a motorcycle, with a big bike around, and I would just patrol the streets, looking for trouble also.
“I was really looking for a confrontation so I could kill.”
The former mayor was nicknamed “Duterte Harry”, after the fictional and ruthless police inspector played by Clint Eastwood, for his support for vigilante death squads that killed hundreds of suspected criminals.
Duterte previously has both denied and acknowledged his involvement in the Davao death squads.
Since taking his bloody anti-crime campaign to the nation level, he has been criticised by the United States and United Nations, whose concerns have drawn only angry rebukes.
“If they say that I am afraid to stop because of the human rights and guys … including Obama, sorry, I am not about to do that,” Duterte said in English during his speech at the presidential palace this week.
Duterte has a better relationship with US president-elect Donald Trump, who he said had praised his war on drugs during a phone call this month. This was not confirmed by Trump’s team.
As president Duterte has publicly encouraged civilians to kill drug addicts and said he will not prosecute police for extrajudicial executions. But he has also said he and his security forces will not break the law.
In October Duterte compared himself to Adolf Hitler and said he would be “happy to slaughter” three million drug addicts.