Just hours after he said he was “not a killer,” the Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte claimed that he “personally” killed suspected criminals during his time as the mayor of Davao.
“In Davao, I used to do it personally. Just to show the guys that, if I can do it, why can’t you?” Duterte said at the Wallace Business Forum in Manila on Monday. “And (I’d) go around Davao with a motorcycle, with a big bike around and I would just patrol the streets and looking for trouble also. I was really looking for an encounter so I could kill.”
The president’s controversial war on drugs has been linked to more than 5,900 deaths in less than six months, sparking international backlash since he took office in June, according to CNN.
It is not the first time Duterte has made such controversial remarks.
In 2015, he acknowledged killing at least three men accused of kidnapping and rape in Davao, the New York Times reported.
But his statements on Monday seems to be the first time he has admitted it publicly since taking power.
During his tenure as mayor of Davao, Duterte allegedly liked to carry a .38 pistol and oversaw a death squad that fatally shot suspected criminals.
As president, his drug war has left more than 3,000 people dead by the hands of the police force and vigilante groups across the country.
At Monday’s awards ceremony in Manila, he also threatened to kill police officers who would not follow his orders.
“I do not relish or enjoy a Filipino sprawled there with all the blood,” he said. “With regard to the killing of persons on bended knees, with hands tied behind their back, that’s not ours. Will that make you a better soldier or policeman? If they do that, I’ll shoot them.”
Duterte has mentioned that President-elect Donald Trump praised his war on drugs in a “very engaging, animated” phone call, according to the Chicago Tribune.
On the other hand, President Barack Obama, who in September Duterte called a “son of a bitch,” opposed the campaign.
Duterte added on Monday that he will not back down on his drug war just because Obama disapproved.
The president later apologized for comparing himself to Adolf Hitler in September, but not for killing nearly three million drug addicts on the streets, saying he would be “happy to slaughter” them.