IN remarks likely to spur calls for investigation, Philippines’ firebrand leader Rodrigo Duterte said he personally killed suspected criminals during his time as mayor of Davao City.
The president now facing international heat for his administration’s violent war on drugs said he conducted the killings himself to set an example for the police under his watch.
“In Davao I used to do it personally. Just to show to the guys (police) that if I can do it why can’t you,” he was quoted by the AFP as saying.
“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.”
According to the wire agency, Duterte’s comments were delivered to businessmen during a speech Monday night at the presidential palace in Manila.
In the same speech, the tough-talking leader also vowed to continue his crackdown on crime, again stressing his refusal to bow to concerns raised by international leaders and rights groups.
“If they say that I am afraid to stop (the campaign) because of the human rights and guys from including Obama: Sorry, I am not about to do that,” he said in English, AFP reported.
Duterte served as Davao City mayor for nearly two decades. His rule was tainted by hundreds of extrajudicial killings and most, if not all, of the murders have been linked to him by critics.
According to the allegations, the murders were carried out by the Davao Death Squad (DDS) that Duterte himself had formed.
In September, during the Senate inquiry into the extrajudicial killings, a man named Edgar Matobato came forward with a confession that rocked media headlines. In his testimony, Matobato admitted that he had been a hitman with the DDS and that he had killed more than 50 people. He also linked Duterte to the killings, claiming the president had ordered his group of hitmen to pursue his rival supporters, bomb a mosque and kill Muslims, and set up an ambush for Senator Leila de Lima when she ordered a probe on the string of murders.
Duterte, however, has on a number of occasions both admitted to and denied his link to the death squad.
A May 2015 report by Inquirer quoted him denying links while a September report this year suggested the complete opposite.
On Dec 9 this year, Matobato, who was after his testimony ordered arrested, filed criminal and administrative complaints against Duterte, claiming the president was the leader of DDS. He also alleged that the squad was responsible for over a thousand murders in Davao City between 1988 and September 2013, which was when he left the group.
Since Duterte entered office in June, more than 5,000 people have been killed in his war on drugs, some 2,000 at the hands of the police and a further 3,000 by vigilante groups.