IN yet another public confession of a summary execution, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday claimed he had once thrown a suspected kidnapper out of a helicopter mid-flight during his time as Davao city mayor.
His admission was a warning to corrupt officials who he threatened would suffer the same fate in the government’s anti-corruption drive, referring to how he dealt with criminals in the past, the Philippine Star reported.
“If you are corrupt I will fetch you with a helicopter and I will throw you out on the way to Manila,” Duterte was quoted as saying.
“I have done that before, why should I not do it again?”
Duterte made the threat against corrupt officials during a speech at the Camarines Sur provincial capitol following his visit Typhoon Nina-hit disaster areas. He said much like his war on drugs, the anti-corruption campaign will be the main focus during his six-year term.
According to the Philippine Star, the president described the incident where he pursued the kidnappers of a Chinese individual who was tortured despite receiving ransom for his release.
He said he had then ordered the pilot to fly at the right height before kicking the kidnapper off the helicopter so as to not cause a commotion from the body’s splatter.
Earlier this month, the firebrand leader, who was once dubbed ‘The Punisher’ for meting out vigilante justice against hardcore criminals, said he personally killed suspected criminals during his time as mayor.
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.”
The White House said boasts by Duterte that he used to ride around on his motorcycle in search of criminals to put down are “deeply troubling“, while the United Nations human rights commission has urged the Philippines to launch a murder investigation.
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.
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.