Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has admitted he has personally killed drug-peddlers in the past as he wanted to show the security forces how it is done. During a public speech in Malacañang, the outspoken leader said he would patrol the city on a motorbike when he was the mayor of Davao curious to confront drug-pushers.
"I go around Davao (on) a big bike and I would just patrol the streets looking for trouble. I was really looking for an encounter to kill. I know it because — I am not trying to pull my own chair — in Davao I used to do it personally. Just to show to the [policemen] that if I can do it, why can't you?", the Filipino leader, who came to power promising to clean up the drug menace after ruling the southern city of Davao for nearly 20 years, said.
Although he has openly declared support for the extrajudicial killings of drug offenders in the past, this is likely the first time he has ever disclosed that he has been personally involved in any of these incidents. Human rights groups have been up in arms against Duterte ever since he took charge as president over the increasing murders of drug-peddlers across the country. Thousands of drug-related suspects and criminals have been killed in the past few months under unexplained circumstances.
"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," added Duterte.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II quickly came to the president's defence. He clarified that Duterte's admission is not tantamount to violation of any law and could as well be an exaggeration.
"It could be done with a justifiable cause and justified circumstances as a public officer in order to arrest [the drug] suspect. He must have been forced to kill," defended Aguirre. But, when asked if he would investigate the president over his alleged killings, the justice secretary said he does not have the powers to do so.